Female tiger at London zoo killed by prospective mate

Leroy Wright
February 12, 2019

The head tiger keeper, Kathryn Sanders, described Asim as "a handsome, confident cat who is known for being very affectionate with the ladies in his life - we're hoping he'll be the flawless mate for our attractive Melati".

Melati, a female Sumatran Tiger, was killed by her potential mate at London Zoo.

But he attacked her after they were put in the same 2,500sq metre enclosure.

The zoo says keepers intervened with loud noises, flares and alarms but were too late to save Melati.

Staff members are "heartbroken by this turn of events", officials said. Zookeepers allowed the two wary predators to physically interact for the first time, hoping they would eventually mate as part of a greater European breeding program. The tigers were kept apart in separate enclosures initially, but they were introduced after a while.

But tensions "quickly escalated", things became "more aggressive" and Melati died in a fight, the zoo said.

Before zookeepers opened the door separating the animals, Asim and Melati had spent 10 days growing habituated to each other through the cage.

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

Staff are "devastated" by the loss of Melati, who has been with the zoo for seven years.

Head tiger keeper Kathryn Sanders described him as "a handsome, confident cat who is known for being very affectionate with the ladies in his life".

In 2013, Melati gave birth to two cubs but one fell into a pool and drowned.

The 10-year-old female had had three litters with her former mate, Jae Jae, and an image of her playing with one of her cubs was featured among the Guardian's photos of the day in September 2016.

Sumatran tigers are the smallest surviving tiger subspecies and are distinguished by heavy black stripes on their orange coats, according to wildlife conservation non-profit WWF. The tiger is found in the wild only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, and the World Wide Fund for Nature says that fewer than 400 exist today, down from an estimated 1,000 in 1978.

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