A tiger mauled a zoo-keeper to death in a New Zealand safari park today, just three months after the victim had saved another keeper from an attack by the same tiger.

Senior tiger handler Dalu Mncube suffered serious "tearing" injuries to his abdomen and lower legs after he was attacked as he and another keeper cleaned the white tiger's enclosure at Zion Wildlife Centre in Whangarei, on North Island.

Despite desperate efforts by his colleague the tiger would not let go of Mr Mncube, who died at the scene before an ambulance arrived at the park.

The horrific attack happened at around 11 a.m, as the two keepers entered an enclosure holding a male and a female tiger, Northland police crime manager Paul Dimery told The Times.

"The other keeper did his best to keep the tiger off him but there was nothing he could do," he said. "He hit it with a stick and fired a fire extinguisher at the tiger, which usually works. He made other attempts to get it away but nothing worked."

In February, Mr Mncube, a South African cat handler of nine years' experience, saved another keeper at the park from a tiger attack by prising the animal's jaws open with his hands before using a fire extinguisher to force it to release its hold.

Click here to read more from the Times of London