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Law change needed after tiger kills man

Wednesday 11 Dec 2013 12:57p.m.

Law change needed after tiger kills man

A coroner has called for wildlife laws to be made easier to administer after a big cat handler was killed by a tiger in front of a tour group.

Dalu Mncube, 30, was mauled while cleaning the Bengal white tiger Abu's cage at Zion Wildlife Gardens, Whangarei, in May 2009.

At the time of the attack, Zion's safety policies and procedures met the legal requirements, Coroner Brandt Shortland found.

In a decision released on Wednesday, Mr Shortland said the complexity of the legislation and regulatory bodies made the law hard to administer and "unworkable at times".

Wildlife parks like Zion, which provided an interactive experience with large cats, are regulated by the Biosecurity Act, Animal Welfare Act and Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act.

Mr Shortland said the acts could be better enforced with more engagement between the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) and Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Though Zion met the minimum standards, a specialist advisor from MPI Dr Barry Ward said a lot of work needed to be done to improve.

Although cleaning the cage while Abu and a female tiger roamed free was not common practice in most zoos, this was legal and an accepted practice at Zion, the finding said.

"Part of the culture at Zion was regular interaction between the animals and staff, whether it was an interactive tour or cleaning the enclosures," the finding said.

"In some respects the potential for a fatality was always imminent."

The operator of Zion Glen Holland said Mr Mncube, who worked at Zion since 2005, was probably the best cat handler he'd seen in his 27 years experience of managing these types of animals.

Abu was shot dead after Mr Mncube's death so his body could be retrieved.


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