A female zookeeper has been attacked and killed by a Sumatran tiger in New Zealand.
Police were called to the zoo in Hamilton after reports that a female zookeeper had been attacked by one of the zoo’s five tigers. Police said the woman died at the scene.
The zoo asked all visitors to leave and said it was closing its doors until Thursday. Authorities are investigating to determine exactly what happened.
Zoo visitor Adam Rich told The New Zealand Herald newspaper he saw the tigers and noticed a female zookeeper opening up a gate to allow them access to an outdoor enclosure.
The zoo is owned and operated by the Hamilton City Council.
Council spokesman Jeff Neems said the tiger that attacked the woman is named Oz and is the zoo’s only adult male tiger. He said Oz was currently safely contained inside his enclosure.
He said the public was never in danger during the incident and that all animals had remained contained in their enclosures.
“Our focus at this time is on providing the adequate support for our staff and family members who have been affected by this tragic incident,” the council said in a statement, adding that they would not be commenting on what went wrong until all investigations had been completed.
Mr Neems said the zoo has 128,000 visitors each year, making it about the fourth most popular zoo in the country. He said he didn’t know how many visitors were at the zoo during the incident.
The zoo is home to over 600 native and exotic animals set on 62 acres of grounds.
Sumatran tigers are considered critically endangered, with less than 400 of the tiger subspecies still living in the wild on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.