A New Zealand zoo has decided it will not euthanise a male Sumatran tiger that attacked and killed a veteran zookeeper.
The tiger, named Oz, killed Samantha Kudeweh, 43, on Sunday morning inside his enclosure at Hamilton Zoo. Ms Kudeweh had been a zookeeper for over 20 years and the mother of two children, aged nine and three.
The zoo, which houses five Sumatran tigers, is owned and operated by Hamilton City Council.
Lance Vervoort, council general manager, said there was always a risk for staff in managing big animals like Oz but the tiger did not pose a wider risk.
“Oz is a significant animal for his species,” Vervoort said. “He is the father of our two cubs, and he is vital to the ongoing breeding programme to conserve this rare species.”
Sumatran tigers are considered critically endangered, with less than 400 of the subspecies still living in the wild on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
Vervoot said the view of zoo professionals was that the attack was in line with the tiger’s natural instincts.
The zoo will remain closed until Thursday. Vervoot said the zoo would not comment on what went wrong until an investigation is completed.
Kudeweh was the zoo’s curator, responsible for organising what animals the zoo obtained and how it looked after them.
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