A tiger’s fatal attack at a zoo in New Zealand left a senior staff member dead over the weekend. The incident involving a Sumatran tiger named Oz happened at the Hamilton Zoo on Sunday. The zoo isn’t sharing much in the way of specifics at this time, but they have confirmed the basics.
According to CNN, the tiger’s fatal attack at the zoo took place on Sunday morning. The incident took place at the North Island Hamilton Zoo, and though in-depth details have not been revealed, the zoo has said that the tiger had not been outside of its enclosure at the time of the attack.
Curator Samantha Kudeweh is the senior keeper who was killed in Sunday’s incident. Kudeweh, 43, was in charge of animal management and had worked at the zoo for the past decade.
The Sydney Morning Herald notes that Samantha had more than 20 years of experience in her field and those who knew her describe her as being a passionate and talented expert in her field. She was married to fellow zoo staffer Richard Kudeweh, and they had two children, 9-year-old Billy and 3-year-old Sage.
After news of the tiger’s fatal attack at the zoo spread, many worried about what would happen to Oz. People flooded to Facebook, and a change.org petition to advocate for Oz’s life to be spared. The Hamilton Zoo has confirmed now that Oz will not be put down after the incident, with those involved feeling that the attack was a result of his natural instincts.
Sumatran tigers are critically endangered, and the zoo indicates that Oz is “a significant animal for his species.” He has two cubs, and the zoo says he is “vital to the ongoing breeding program” to conserve the Sumatran breed.
This is the third animal park keeper death in New Zealand in the past six years. One person was killed by an elephant in 2012 and another was killed by a white tiger in 2009. As was previously reported by the Inquisitr, an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Samantha Kudeweh’s death has been initiated.
The Hamilton Zoo will remain closed until Thursday. The Hamilton City Council notes, however, that a decision has not yet been made about whether Oz will be immediately on display when the zoo reopens. Several encounter experiences are currently on hold, and the zoo will evaluate reopening them on a weekly basis.
The zoo says it will not comment on tiger management procedures until the investigation into the tiger’s fatal attack at the zoo has been completed. In the wake of the tragedy at the Hamilton Zoo, people have flooded the zoo’s Facebook page with messages of support for the zoo, Samantha Kudeweh’s family, and for Oz the tiger, as well.
[Image via Hamilton Zoo Facebook page]