Senior Sergeant Juliet Burgess, told the Sydney Morning Herald from the zoo, “Sadly the staff member who was attacked by the tiger has died at the scene.” .

The zoo is currently closed.

The tiger named Oz was brought to Hamilton Zoo from Auckland Zoo in 2013 as part of the global species management plan for Sumatran tigers.

He was paired with Sali, and cubs were born in November 2014.

The Sumatran tiger, found on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is rare and only about 500 exist in the wild.

It is not the first time a keeper has had a potentially lethal encounter with a tiger at Hamilton zoo. 

In 2013, a keeper walked 10 metres into an enclosure she thought was empty before finding herself alone with a tiger. She wasn’t harmed.

At the time the zoo said a gate had mistakenly been left open.