A rare female Sumatran tiger at the SZL London Zoo was killed Friday when being introduced to a male tiger that zoo staff hoped she would mate with.
Male tiger Asim, 7, arrived Jan. 29 from a Danish zoo, according to media reports. ZSA London Zoo staff intended for Asim to be a companion for longtime zoo resident Melati, 10, as part of a Europe-wide conservative breeding program, CNN reported.
The tigers were originally kept in separate, adjoining enclosures for 10 days that allowed them to “smell and react to each other,” according to a statement from the zoo. On Friday, a door between the enclosures was opened, allowing the tigers to enter the same enclosure for the first time.
Asim and Melati’s introduction “began as predicted,” but “quickly escalated into a more aggressive interaction,” the statement said. Zoo staffers tried to distract the pair with flares and loud noises to no avail. Asim soon overpowered Melati.
After zoo staff were finally able to separate the tigers, zoo veterinarians confirmed that Melati had died.
“Everyone at ZSA London Zoo is devastated by the loss of Melati, and we are heartbroken by this turn of events,” the zoo said.
Sumatran tigers are naturally found in the jungles of Sumatra, Indonesia, according to the BBC. The ZSA London Zoo said an estimated 400 Sumatran tigers live in the wild, making them critically endangered.
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