A notorious tiger that mauled its Hamilton Zoo keeper to death five years ago has died after becoming seriously ill.
Sumatran tiger Oz developed serious renal issues and was subsequently euthanised at the zoo on Wednesday, but his death has brought back painful memories of keeper Samantha Kudeweh.
Oz attacked 43-year-old Kudeweh from behind on a wet and rainy September day in 2015.
Fellow workers later found her body in the enclosure with Oz beside her.
Authorities marked the 15-year-old tiger's death on Wednesday by pledging that Hamilton Zoo keepers would in future always be protected by best practice safety standards.
That had not been the case in 2015.
A WorkSafe report into Kudeweh's death found critical understaffing and changes made to the tiger enclosure's gate system had contributed to the keeper's death.
Hamilton City Council chief executive Richard Briggs restated that the council took responsibility for Kudeweh's death.
While the zoo had been in the process of improving safety in 2015, Kudeweh's death highlighted that when dealing with dangerous animals "you need to go hard and fast" to put those standards in place.
"The unfortunate passing of Kudeweh highlighted that you just can't take your time with these things. You can't be complacent," Briggs told media outlet Stuff.
The zoo had since put in place key safety recommendations, including a two-keeper care system for Sumatran tigers, interlocked gates, and improved security systems, fencing and "engineering controls".
"(The control) basically means that no matter whether someone is doing what they should do or not, everyone deserves the right to go home at the end of the day," Briggs said.
WorkSafe prosecuted Hamilton City Council for its safety failures and the council was fined $38,250 in 2016 and ordered to pay more than $10,000 reparation to Kudeweh's children, Billy and Sage who were just 9 and 3 when she died.
Her husband, Richard Kudeweh, who was also a zookeeper at Hamilton Zoo, told the Herald at the time the reparation, which amounted to $19.93 for each child a week over five years, was a farce.
A WorkSafe report into Kudeweh's death found the Hamilton City Council-owned zoo had a dangerous staffing ratio of one keeper per 21 animals, compared to one per seven at Auckland and Wellington zoos.
It also found those low staffing numbers meant zookeepers were attending to the most dangerous animals, tigers and chimpanzees, alone instead of in pairs.
Staff felt it was a matter of time before an accident would happen.
Kudeweh, who was one of the country's most experienced tiger keepers, was killed after entering Oz's enclosure - one of two Sumatran tigers - without realising he was not secured.
She went in to cut bamboo for the red pandas because the zoo was trying to reduce food costs by using its own vegetation.
However, on that Sunday morning there was a torrential downpour and she was wearing wet weather gear, something she rarely did.
Oz subsequently attacked her from behind, knocking her equipment from her hands.
She was found deceased, with Oz sitting beside her body, a short time later by another keeper who could not raise her by radio or phone.
Oz was born in November 2004 at Tel Aviv Zoo in Israel and transferred to Auckland Zoo in 2006.
An important part of the international breeding programme, Oz fathered Auckland Zoo's first Sumatran tiger cubs with Molek in 2008.
Oz was then transferred to Hamilton Zoo in 2013, the zoo's director Dr Baird Fleming said.
Sumatran tigers are critically endangered, with less than 400 remaining in the wild on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
Numbers are declining due to habitat loss from palm-oil deforestation and poaching.