Published: Sun, February 10, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Rare Sumatran tiger killed by potential mate at London Zoo

Rare Sumatran tiger killed by potential mate at London Zoo

It was supposed to be a "positive" first date, planned for several days, between a rare Sumatran tiger and a potential mate at the London Zoo.

Zoologists gave them time to get used to each other's presence and smells, and waited for what they felt would be the right time to let them get together.

Asim and Melati were matched through the European Endangered Species Program for Sumatran tigers, which seeks to rescue the cats from near-extinction, the zoo said.

A meeting between two rare Sumatran tigers at London Zoo had a tragic end when the male animal shocked its handlers and killed his prospective mate.

The two tigers were in adjoining enclosures so they could get to know each another, but their first meeting "quickly escalated into a more aggressive interaction".

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.

Melati 10 was mauled to death by his prospective partner Asim
Melati 10 was mauled to death by his prospective partner Asim

Trained staff eventually managed to secure Asim in a separate paddock in order for vets to safely attend to Melati, but they confirmed that she had died in the attack.

A zoo in London is mourning the loss of their female Sumatran tiger after the first interaction with her potential mate went completely wrong. "Zoo staff immediately implemented their prepared response, using loud noises, flares and alarms to try and distract the pair, but Asim had already overpowered Melati", the ZSL said. Five of these cubs survived to adulthood and were rehoused across Europe.

Experts had said it was important that tigers such as Melati were given the opportunity to have cubs with other mates to ensure genetic diversity across the world's zoos and ultimately safeguard the future of the species.

Head tiger keeper Kathryn Sanders said at the time that he had "made himself at home in his new, cozy den". The zoo posted a tweet about the incident adding that the team's focus is now on caring for Asim.

The Sumatran tiger is classified as critically endangered and is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's red list of threatened animals.

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