5AA: Victim of Tiger Attack Was A Respected Experienced Curator – Recorded live on 21/09/15.
At around 11am Sunday Hamilton Zoo’s curator, Samantha Kudeweh, was attacked by a Sumatran tiger. She died at the scene a short time later before ambulance staff arrived.
The large male tiger, named Oz, has been identified as having killed her.
This tiger had been moved to Hamilton Zoo from Auckland Zoo as part of the Global Species Management plan conservation efforts.
New Zealand Herald reported that a visitor to the zoo from Melbourne, Adam Rich, said he saw a female keeper in the tiger enclosure shortly before the attack.
“There was a keeper in there who opened up the gate so the tigers could leave the inside area to go to the outside area,” he said.
Samantha Kudeweh was 43 years of age and had had more than 20 years’ experience working with zoo animals and reportedly had a passion for their wellbeing.
She had also worked at Hamilton Zoo for about 10 years. Before that she worked at Auckland Zoo for eight years, and two years at Melbourne Zoo and Werribee Zoo.
This morning, her family issued a statement, via the zoo which noted how Sam “was recognised and respected globally as a talented, passionate and highly knowledgeable conservation and zoo professional”. Her favourite animal was the Rhino.
In her bio, Sam Kudeweh wrote:
“For me the best thing about my role is the opportunities to interact with other species one to one, but there is a down side and that is having to say goodbye to animals. That part never gets any easier.”
Under her care at Hamilton Zoo, the Sumatran tigers gave birth to two cubs. At the time she wrote: “This is a career highlight for me and the rest of the team involved… It’s very exciting for the zoo and the species.”
At this stage, the male Sumatran tiger, Oz, is unlikely to be euthanised.
According to International zoo consultant Tim Husband… the tiger would not be put down unless it still posed a threat to human life.
He told Fairfax’s Stuff site this morning:
“What a lot of people fail to understand is that even though these animals are in captivity they are still wild and not a domesticated cat.”