Published: Sat, February 09, 2019
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Endangered tiger killed by potential mate in zoo tragedy

Endangered tiger killed by potential mate in zoo tragedy

A potential courtship ended in tragedy Friday at the London Zoo, where staff say a female Sumatran tiger was killed by a male they once hoped would be her "perfect mate".

The two animals had been kept separated in adjoining areas since Asim's arrival so they could get used to each other.

Seven-year-old Asim - whose name means "Protector" in Arabic - had been matched with Melati through the European Endangered Species Programme for Sumatran tigers.

While things initially got off to a slow start, with both tigers described by the zoo as "cautious", they quickly turned serious and Asim began to get aggressive with his female counterpart.

Zoo staff desperately tried to distract Asim with loud noises, flares and alarms but he overpowered Melati and killed her.

A statement released after the incident on Friday said staff were "devastated" and "heartbroken by this turn of events". After their keepers saw positive signs, they decided to make the "high-risk" introduction on Friday morning.

They managed to put Asim, 7, back in a separate paddock, but by that time Melati, 10, was already dead.

Seven-year-old tiger Asim was brought to the zoo as a mate for Melati. During the introduction Asim overpowered Melati in a fight
Seven-year-old tiger Asim was brought to the zoo as a mate for Melati. During the introduction Asim overpowered Melati in a fight

Asim, who is seven years old, was brought in from Denmark on 29 January, with Jae Jae heading to a French park.

The zoo explained that any introductions involving large cats always run an incredibly high risk, no matter how prepared the keepers may be.

"Asim is a handsome, confident cat who is known for being very affectionate with the ladies in his life - we're hoping he'll be the ideal mate for our lovely Melati", she said, according to Sky News.

The London Zoo said its tiger territory will remain closed while the team focuses on caring for Asim.

The World Wildlife Fund estimates there are only around 400 Sumatran tigers left due to the toll from poaching, deforestation and encroachment by people in Indonesia.

Sumatran tigers are a critically endangered species, and the London Zoo is trying to help save the majestic cats through a breeding program.

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