In what is being described as a tragic incident, a zookeeper working at the Hamilton Zoo in New Zealand has died in a tiger attack. According to a report by the New Zealand Herald, the tiger involved in the fatal attack was a male Sumatran tiger named Oz. Initial reports say the incident happened in the morning a few hours after the zoo opened for business on Sunday.
Richard Briggs, the Hamilton City Council Chief, did not reveal the circumstances in which the tiger attack happened. He, however, revealed that the victim was a female zookeeper. At this time though, it is unclear if the staff member was authorized to be inside the tiger enclosure when the attack took place. An investigation has been launched, and only after it is completed would officials be able to say how it all happened, ABC Australia reports. The identity of the zookeeper has not been revealed, and only after her next of kin is informed about the tragedy would any details come forth.
Meanwhile, there are unconfirmed reports that the zookeeper was attacked by the tiger when she entered the enclosure to clean it. The tiger involved in the attack was with another female tiger at the time.
This is the first instance of a fatal animal attack at the Hamilton Zoo, which has had an impressive safety record all these years. Mr. Briggs added that members of the city council and other zoo staff were devastated by the incident. The zoo will remain closed till Thursday for investigation and other formalities, he added.
“Hamilton Zoo will remain closed until Thursday while investigations are completed and we will arrange for a blessing of the site.”
Meanwhile, more questions are being raised about the future of the tiger than the attack itself, with people worried about the animal being euthanized. Officials have at this time not revealed what they plan to do with the tiger. The Facebook page of Hamilton Zoo posted an update that read:
“We are deeply saddened to confirm the death of a female Hamilton Zoo staff member today after an attack by one of the zoo’s Sumatran tigers this morning. Our focus at this time is on supporting staff and the wider zoo family, and working with relevant agencies on investigations which are underway. Hamilton Zoo will be closed until Thursday.”
Mayor Julie Hardaker said it was a sad day for everyone in the city.
“We extend our sincere condolences to everyone involved. It’s a very close staff community here at the zoo and a lot of the staff are hurting including ourselves.”
Last year, an intoxicated man was killed by a white tiger in a New Delhi zoo after he fell into the enclosure.
[Image Via Hamilton Zoo Facebook Page]