Melati a female Sumatran Tiger walks past her frozen pool, at London Zoo.
Melati a female Sumatran Tiger walks past her frozen pool, at London Zoo.

Female tiger mauled by breeding mate

A female Sumatran tiger at London Zoo has been killed by her potential new mate on their first introduction.

Melati, 10, was mauled to death by Asim, 7, when keepers allowed the pair to meet for the first time.

They had shown "obvious positive signs" when they were kept in adjoining enclosures within each other's sight for the previous 10 days, a spokesman for the zoo said.

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".

Melati a female Sumatran Tiger walks past her frozen pool, at London Zoo. Picture: AP
Melati a female Sumatran Tiger walks past her frozen pool, at London Zoo. Picture: AP

A statement released after the incident on Friday said staff were "devastated" and "heartbroken by this turn of events".

London Zoo told of how a door was slid open for the first time, after the big cats had been given time to identify each other's scents.

They sized each other up once in the same enclosure, before the situation became violent, and

young male Asim attacked Melati.

Asim was secured and removed to another paddock, but vets couldn't save Melati who had died.

"As with all big cats, introductions, however carefully planned, are always considered to be high risk," it said.

"This morning, the two tigers were in separate paddocks and the adjoining door was opened to allow them to meet.

Sumatran tiger named Asim at London Zoo. Picture: AP
Sumatran tiger named Asim at London Zoo. Picture: AP

"Asim approached Melati and, as expected by keepers, the two tigers were initially cautious.

"Their introduction began as predicted, but quickly escalated into a more aggressive interaction.

"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.

"Zookeepers were eventually able to secure Asim in a separate paddock so that they could safely get to Melati where our vets confirmed that she had sadly died."

London Zoo said the tiger closure would remain closed while they "focus on caring for Asim".

They had hoped the two tigers would breed as part of a Europe-wide tiger conservation program for the endangered Sumatran subspecies.

Melati had previously given birth to tiger cub twins at the zoo three years ago.


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