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Endangered Sumatran tiger killed by intended mating partner at London Zoo

Endangered Sumatran tiger killed by intended mating partner at London Zoo

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

The shocked handlers tried to use loud noises, flare, and alarms to try to distract the two tigers, but to no avail. But after they were put together for the first time in the zoo's 2,500 sq m Tiger Territory enclosure, which replicates their natural Indonesian habitat, Asim became aggressive. After their keepers saw positive signs, they decided to make the "high-risk" introduction on Friday morning.

They wanted to give the two tigers time to get used to each other's presence and smells before officially meeting in the same enclosure.

Following the incident, the zoo issued a statement saying, "Everyone at ZSL London Zoo is devastated by the loss of Melati, and we are heartbroken by this turn of events".

"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", the statement read.

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.

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Malcolm Fitzpatrick, senior curator of mammals, said introductions of large predators were "high risk" but it was "important they are moved around".

In addition, they explained that in Asim's early days at the zoo with Melati, they noticed "lots of "chuffing" which is a happy sound they make to let each other know they have good intentions" and added, "It's fantastic to see that they're interested in each other already".

Ahead of Asim's arrival, the zoo described the large cat as "handsome", "confident" and said he was "known for being very affectionate with the ladies in his life - we're hoping he'll be the flawless mate for our attractive Melati". While the meeting began as predicted by the zoo staff, it escalated with Asim attacking Melati.

The species are critically endangered, with just 400 recorded in the wild, it is therefore vital that conservationists work to breed them.

Staff at the zoo are now focused on caring for Asim following the tragic event.


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