Page last updated at 16:57 GMT, Wednesday, 27 May 2009 17:57 UK

Rare white tiger kills zoo keeper

Dalu Mncube
Reports said Dalu Mncube had saved a colleague from attack earlier this year

A rare white tiger has mauled to death a New Zealand zoo keeper as horrified tourists looked on, police said.

The attack occurred at the Zion Wildlife Gardens in Whangarei, some 200km (124 miles) north of Auckland.

Police said the tiger grabbed a male zoo keeper who was cleaning an enclosure and would not let go despite the efforts of other staff members.

The zoo - home to some 40 rare lions and tigers - has been closed to visitors, and the tiger destroyed.

Police said the attack was witnessed by a group of eight tourists.

Manager Glen Holland: "He is a personal friend, and everybody is devastated"

The keeper was named in local media as South African Dalu Mncube who reportedly rescued one of his colleagues from an attack earlier this year.

The zoo is well known in New Zealand as the setting for a reality television programme that starred its founder Craig Busch, known as the "Lion Man".

Mr Busch was dismissed from his post last year by his mother, who controls the zoo.

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