A fatal attack on a Hamilton Zoo keeper by a male Sumatran tiger should not be viewed as an isolated incident, officials Say.
Hamilton City Council’s general manager community Lance Vervoort has today confirmed that senior zoo staff have ruled out euthanizing the tiger, named Oz.
“We’re aware there is a lot of interest and speculation around how we manage Oz now, and I want to assure the public and zoo supporters that he will not be put down,” says Lance.
“Although there is an inherent risk for zoo professionals who manage big cats like Oz, there is no wider ongoing risk. There is no reason for us to put Oz down.”
Mr Vervoort says the decision not to euthanize Oz was made by zoo senior staff today, and the Ministry for Primary Industries have been advised of their decision.
“This is our call, and the decision on Oz rested solely with us,” he adds. “Oz is a significant animal for his species. He is the father of our two cubs, and he is vital to the ongoing breeding programme to conserve this rare species.”
Mr Vervoort says the widely held view among zoo professionals was that Oz’s attack on Samantha was in line with his natural instincts.
Hamilton Zoo will reopen on Thursday, and Mr Vervoort says some of the zoo’s five Sumatran tigers will be on display. As yet, no decision has been made on whether visitors to the zoo will be able to see Oz.
The zoo’s popular Tiger Talks, Eye 2 Eye and Face 2 Face encounters for all species have been suspended until further notice to allow zoo staff time and space to grieve for their friend and colleague.
“We’re firmly focussed on supporting Samantha’s family, the zoo team, and make sure we conduct thorough and complete investigations into this tragic incident,” he says
“Our team is still coming to terms with what has happened, and the show of support from our community and the zoo industry worldwide has been very touching and hugely appreciated.”