Akira Furusho, 40, an experienced employee of the zoo, was found unconscious with severe injuries to his neck at Hirakawa Zoological Park, in Kagoshima at 5pm on Monday. He was taken to hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival.
Four white tigers inside the enclosure were sedated using a tranquilliser gun during the rescue operation.
The zoo is now investigating the incident and will review security procedures.
The cause of the accident remains unclear as does the fate of the tiger responsible for the zookeeper’s death.