Claims zookeeper's husband unhappy with level of care shown

By Danielle Nicholson -
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The husband of the Hamilton Zoo curator who was killed by a tiger last year is said to be unhappy at the support shown for his late wife's family by Hamilton City Council.

Richard Kudeweh has been employed as the zoo's team leader of grounds and facilities since January 2006. His wife Samantha was mauled by Oz, a Sumatran tiger, on September 20 while carrying out routine duties inside the animal's enclosure.

Samantha's mother Judy Stephens told Hamilton News that Richard is unhappy over what she claims has been a lack of support for the family by Hamilton City Council.

Worksafe announced in March that it would prosecute Hamilton City Council over Samantha's death. The charge, which carries a maximum fine of $250,000, alleges the council breached Section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 by failing to take all practicable steps to ensure Samantha was not exposed to hazards arising out of working with the tiger Oz.

It is expected that Council will make its first court appearance later this month.

"There has been a lack of caring for the situation Richard is in," claims Mrs Stephens.

"I'd like to see some support offered that Richard can find meaningful. He needs to be supported with the means of retraining himself and some ongoing financial support for the family."

Richard had two children with Samantha - Billy, 9, and Sage, 3.

Lance Vervoort, Councils's general manager community, said "We appreciate how hugely difficult this has been for Judy, Richard, the children and Sam's family - and everyone else involved, including our staff.

"We have, from the outset, provided support to Richard and the children following this terrible tragedy. We don't think it's appropriate to release details of that support - they are confidential to Council and Richard - but we continue to provide Richard with support, and both he and Judy with information and updates on the broader situation here."

After Samantha's death, a Givealittle page, which was set up for to establish a trust for Billy and Sage, raised almost $33,000.

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