Council charged over death of Hamilton zookeeper

Council charged over death of Hamilton zookeeper

Hamilton City Council is being prosecuted over the death of zookeeper Samantha Kudeweh.

Ms Kudeweh, 43, was mauled by a Sumatran tiger after she entered its enclosure in September last year.

The council is yet to decide how it will plead to the charge, laid by WorkSafe NZ.

"Sam's colleagues at Hamilton Zoo are a tight-knit group and they continue to draw strength from one another and strive to deliver a great zoo and zoo experience to visitors," council chief executive Richard Briggs said in a statement.

"Sam was a much-loved and inspiring zoo professional, and she is often in the thoughts of zoo staff. We would again like to extend our deepest sympathies to Sam's family and friends. This has been an extremely difficult time for staff at Hamilton City Council and Hamilton Zoo, and for Sam's family and friends."

WorkSafe says Hamilton Zoo failed to take all practical steps to ensure Ms Kudeweh wasn't exposed to hazards arising out of working with the tiger, Oz. The zoo faces a fine of up to $250,000.

"Council staff and our legal advisors from Tompkins Wake will be working through the disclosure process relating to documents filed with the court by WorkSafe," says Mr Briggs.

"We remain committed to transparency on the outcomes related to Sam's death, and at the appropriate time we will make information available and have further comment."

The charge has been filed at the Hamilton District Court, and no court date has yet been set.

WorkSafe declined to comment further on the matter.