No charges for Lowry Park zookeeper

Early edition: A mistake by zookeeper Christopher Allen Lennon had a tragic ending.

By Times Staff
Published November 14, 2006

TAMPA — The zookeeper who left a door unlocked, allowing a Sumatran tiger to escape from its enclosure at Lowry Park Zoo in August, will not face criminal charges, Hillsborough prosecutors announced Tuesday.

"There was no criminal intent," said Assistant State Attorney Pam Bondi. The incident was "simply human error."

The mistake by zookeeper Christopher Allen Lennon had a tragic ending. A tiger, Enshalla, wandered out of the night enclosure. When she lunged at a zoo veterinarian who tried to calm her with a tranquilizer, the zoo's president, Lex Salisbury, fatally shot her.

Lennon, 33, who had recently started work at the zoo, lost his job over the incident. The escape also prompted a criminal investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The agency then turned the case over to prosecutors.

"After carefully reviewing the facts and applying the case law, the State Attorney's Office has elected not to file criminal charges in this matter as there is insufficient evidence that the defendant acted with criminal intent," according to a statement released by prosecutors.

Read a Times feature on the tiger and a chimp that also died at the zoo this year:

Elegy for a king and queen