London Zoo's Female Tiger Melati Mauled To Death By Prospective Mate
A male Sumatran tiger has killed his prospective mate in their first meeting at London Zoo, after 10 days of being kept in separate, adjoining paddocks.
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, seven, 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.
A statement released after the incident on Friday said staff were "devastated" and "heartbroken by this turn of events".
"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.
"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."
Melati was born in Perth Zoo, but was sent to London in 2012 to breed.
She gave birth to two tiger cubs in 2013 but one died after falling into a pool and drowning. She gave birth again to three more cubs in 2014.
The Sumatran tiger is classified as critically endangered, with just 300 existing in the wild.