A timeline of the fatal mauling this month of a Florida zookeeper reveals 17 minutes went by before medics could safely reach her inside a tiger's enclosure.
The Palm Beach Zoo’s initial response has come under fire after observers questioned why the rare Malayan tiger was tranquilized instead of shot — and whether getting to zookeeper Stacey Konwiser, 38, sooner would have saved her life.
The timeline — based in part on police and county records obtained by NBC News affiliate WPTV on Tuesday — shows that a 911 call was made just after the 1:55 p.m. ET attack on April 15. Rescue personnel arrived about six minutes later at 2:01 p.m.
Zoo staff tranquilized the tiger at 2:06 p.m. — 11 minutes after the mauling. Police notes say officials had to wait before they could risk going inside the enclosure, WPTV reported.
"Animal has been tranquilized. We’re waiting for it to take effect before we can enter," according to West Palm Beach Fire Rescue audio transmissions.
Tranquilizers can take as long as 10 minutes to kick in.
It wasn't until 2:12 p.m. — 17 minutes after the initial call — that medics were able to check on Konwiser and render aid.
She was taken to a nearby school, where a helicopter was waiting to airlift her to a hospital in West Palm Beach. The helicopter arrived at St. Mary's Medical Center at 2:40 p.m. She was listed in critical condition and later died.
The zoo said last week that she suffered from neck injuries and had been tending to the tigers alone when she was attacked.
The zoo, while acknowledging Konwiser was in the midst of "daily operating procedures," said she broke protocol by entering part of the tiger's enclosure that was accessible to the animal.
In deciding to tranquilize the tiger instead of euthanizing him with a gun — an option that the zoo had — zoo officials say they had to take into consideration employee safety, the size of the space the animal and victim were in, and whether a bullet might have ricocheted.
"We stand by our decision to tranquilize," the zoo said in a statement Friday.
Palm Beach Zoo President Andrew Aiken is scheduled to hold a press conference Thursday.
The incident was the first time a person was killed in an animal attack at the zoo in its 60-year history, although there were previous accidents in which workers were wounded.
Konwiser, a tiger expert, had just passed her three-year anniversary at the zoo, spokeswoman Naki Carter said earlier. She described her as someone that "absolutely loved everything that had to do with keeping these tigers and seeing that they were enriched daily."