Officials at the zoo in Santiago said Pampa was shot Sunday morning when he was found with his mouth around the throat of longtime zoo employee Jose Silva, The Santiago Times reported.
Silva, who has worked at the zoo for 25 years, was feeding Pampa and cleaning its living area at the time of the attack. He was taken to a Santiago hospital, where his condition was described as "stable without risk of death" in a hospital statement.
Zoo Director Mauricio Fabry denied rumors that the tiger had been killed some time after the accident.
Activists held a tribute to Pampa Sunday night, placing candles and pictures of the tiger at the entrance of the zoo. They called for the resignation of those responsible for the death of the animal and condemned zoos as "jails for animals."
"One would not like to end things with this kind of solution, but in this case we were caught between Pampa's life or Jose's life and we acted according to the protocol we must follow," Fabry said in defending the zoo's actions.
White tigers are considered in danger of extinction. Pampa was one of three white tigers at the zoo and the only male.