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09 February 2019, 06:00 | Glen Norman
KIRSTY WIGGLESWORTH APMelati a female Sumatran Tiger was killed by her potential mate at London Zoo
London Zoo's beloved female tiger Melati has been brutally mauled to death by her potential new mate while the two beasts were being introduced for the first time today.
The two tigers were initially kept in separate, adjoining enclosures, where keepers allowed the two animals to "smell and react to each other". Keepers were able to restrain Asim, but Melati died from the attack.
A statement published by the zoo details what went wrong: "Their introduction began as predicted, but quickly escalated into a more aggressive interaction". On Friday, they put the two tigers into the same enclosure, and Asim killed Melati as shocked handlers tried in vain to intervene. "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", the ZSL said. After their keepers saw positive signs, they decided to make the "high-risk" introduction on Friday morning.
APAsim a new addition to London Zoo killed Melati as shocked handlers tried in vain to intervene
The zoo acknowledged that while introductions of big cats are always considered "high risk", zoo experts had observed "positive signs" and deemed it to be the "right time" to introduce the pair.
A spokesman for London Zoo said staff were "devastated" and "heartbroken".
Melati had previously given birth to tiger cub twins at the zoo three years ago.
It was a tragic end to hopes that the two would eventually breed as part of a Europe-wide tiger conservation program for the endangered Sumatran subspecies.
Heralding his arrival, the zoo described him as "a handsome, confident cat who is known for being very affectionate with the ladies in his life", adding that "we're hoping he'll be the flawless mate for our attractive Melati".
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