Rare tiger kills prospective mate in first meeting at London Zoo

Cheryl Sanders
February 10, 2019

The meeting that began cautiously, quickly turned into an aggressive interaction.

Male tiger, Asim, was brought to the zoo from a Danish safari park, with the intention of introducing him to long-term resident, Melati.

"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 zoo explained.

The London Zoo welcomed Asim on January 29, writing in a post that the tiger - who was moved to the zoo from Ree Park Safari in Denmark - was a "handsome, confident cat who is known for being very affectionate with the ladies in his life".

Melati, 10, was mauled to death by his prospective partner Asim.

Asim was moved to ZSL London Zoo as part of the European-wide conservation breeding program. The reactions of the two were carefully monitored and on observing positive signs, experts felt it was the right time to introduce the two, according to the statement by ZSL London Zoo.

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

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.

A potential courtship ended in tragedy Friday at the London Zoo, where staff say a female Sumatran tiger was killed by a male they once hoped would be her "perfect mate".

"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.

He added that the seven-year-old was "sociable" at his previous home where he had "been introduced in an even shorter time to the female there", but "occasionally incidents can happen in zoos with established pairs, and in the wild".

It said the focus now is "caring for Asim as we get through this hard event". The last of Indonesia's tigers - less than 400 today - are holding on for survival in the remaining patches of forests on the island of Sumatra.

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