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Wellington Zoo investigating tiger incident

Thursday 29 May 2014 4:58 p.m.

There are signs that say to stay out, but the curiosity of a child meant he nearly got caught by the cat.

A keeper accidentally left the gate unlatched to the Wellington Zoo feeding area of 17-year-old Sumatran tiger Rokan.

Meat is held up to the fence by keepers - any little fingers or hands could also be tempting.

Rokan did lunge towards the child, but didn't harm him.

It was a different story in 2003 when a mental health patient gained access to the enclosure - the same tiger seriously attacked him.

The zoo insists its enclosure is safe but it is investigating the incident.

"This exhibit has been open for two years and we never had any similar incidences anywhere in the zoo, for that matter," says Wellington Zoo animal care manager Mauritz Basson.

It's not the only incident at the zoo - last night two cheetahs were flown up from Christchurch's Orana Park to take residence in Wellington, but one lost consciousness on the flight.

"We tried our best to revive it. Our vets worked tirelessly until 11 pm last night and unfortunately the cat passed away."

While Shamari didn't make it, brother Cango survived.

"We've been waiting for so long to have these two boys here and now we just have one, but he's a marvellous cat and he's just a joy to have."

Cango's now getting used to his new enclosure without his brother, who he has spent the past five years with.

Shamari's post mortem took place today but the results aren't expected for another fortnight.

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