The endangered New Zealand tiger who fatally attacked an employee at the Hamilton Zoo will not be euthanized, officials announced Monday.

Oz, one of only about 400 Sumatran tigers left on earth, is "too rare to die," according to the zoo.

"Oz is a significant animal for his species," said Lance Vervoort of the Hamilton City Council. "He is the father of our 2 cubs, and he is vital to the ongoing breeding program to conserve this rare species."

The zoo says its staff has always known the dangers of handling tigers, but assured there is "no wider ongoing risk" to handlers.

Oz, now 10 years old, attacked zookeeper Samantha Kudeweh, 43, on Sunday morning as she opened his gate to release several tigers for a routine public viewing. Zoo officials have kept details of Kudeweh's death quiet, saying, however, that she died at the scene.

Oz is one of 5 Sumatran tigers at the Hamilton Zoo, which is run by the City Council. The zoo will remain closed until Thursday following the incident.