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Tiger Kills Houston Zoo Employee

May 12, 1988

HOUSTON (AP) _ A 450-pound Siberian tiger named Miguel crashed through a window to attack and kill an employee at the Houston Zoo this morning, zoo officials said.

Ricardo Tovar, 59, was killed after the tiger went crashed through a 2 1/2 -foot-wide window that was part of his cage, said John Werler, zoo director.

″It cut him up and ate him up pretty good,″ said Houston Fire Department paramedic Howard Shaw.

Shaw said Tovar, a 10-year-employee of the zoo, was found by a co-worker about five minutes after the 7:45 a.m. attack. The tiger was outside in a natural habitat display while Tovar was in an interior hallway when the attack occurred.

The tiger crashed through a window, attacked the zookeeper and dragged him outside. The animal ran into an enclosed part of its cage after zoo curator Tom Dieckow fired three shots and sprayed a fire extinguisher to scare it. The animal was not wounded.

Werler said the Siberian tiger would probably not be destroyed because it is an endangered species.

The tiger initially was reported to be named ″Rambo,″ the other male Siberian tiger at the zoo. One of Tovar’s jobs was to feed the big cats.

About 90 minutes after the attack, an orange sheet was draped over what appeared to be a body on the ground at the zoo’s tiger display. The display was roped off with yellow tape.

The zoo opened for business about 10:30, about 30 minutes later than usual.

The tiger has been isolated in its cage, officials said.

The Siberian tiger is the largest of eight types of tigers and can measure up to 13 feet and weigh as much as 720 pounds.

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