Female zookeeper dies after being attacked by tiger at New Zealand zoo

WELLINGTON (Bloomberg/AFP) - A female zookeeper was killed in an attack by a tiger in New Zealand, according to the authorities, who have begun an investigation into the incident.

Ms Samantha Lynda Kudeweh, 43, suffered fatal injuries on Sunday morning at Hamilton Zoo, about 500km north of the capital Wellington, New Zealand police said in a statement.

WorkSafe New Zealand, the country's health and safety authority, is investigating, it said in a separate e-mailed statement.

"Sadly the staff member who was attacked by the tiger has died at the scene," Senior Sgt Juliet Burgess of New Zealand Police's Waikato District Command Centre said in the statement. "This is a tragic incident." 

"It is too early to determine exactly what's happened. Hamilton Police are working with Hamilton Zoo staff and Worksafe NZ to investigate."

Ms Kudeweh was the zoo's curator, and had previously worked in Auckland and in Australia, according to a profile on the Hamilton Zoo website.

The zoo did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Hamilton Zoo houses Sumatran tigers, a species native to Indonesia that is regarded as critically endangered.

In November, two cubs were born at the zoo under a global breeding program, according to the park's website.