Hamilton City Council has been ordered to pay reparations of $5,180 to each of zookeeper Samantha Kudeweh’s two children. Ms Kudeweh was killed by a tiger while working at Hamilton Zoo last year.
The Council was also ordered to pay fines of $38,250 after pleading guilty to one charge under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure Ms Kudeweh’s safety.
The Council pleaded guilty on June 9 2016 and was sentenced today at the Hamilton District Court.
A WorkSafe investigation into Ms Kudeweh’s death on September 20 2015 revealed that Hamilton City Council, as the owner and operator of Hamilton Zoo, failed to take a number of practicable steps to ensure the safety of Ms Kudeweh. This included a lack of mechanical and safety features to prevent two gates between the cat chute and the main enclosure being open at the same time, not having a two keeper system in place, or warning signs to indicate that a tiger had not been secured.
WorkSafe Chief Inspector Keith Stewart says this tragic incident was completely avoidable.
“As an employer, Hamilton City Council had a duty to implement safety systems, administrative and mechanical, to ensure that staff never came into direct contact with the tigers, including in the event that a gate was accidentally left open.
“Working with large carnivores like Sumatran tigers will always come with the highest possible risk – there are no second chances if you come into direct contact with a dangerous animal,” says Mr Stewart.