Sumatran tigers are a critically endangered species, and the London Zoo is trying to help save the majestic cats through a breeding program. A tragic turn on Friday ended in the death of Melati, one of the zoo’s female tigers.
Zookeepers introduced 10-year-old Melati to potential mate Asim, a 7-year-old tiger that arrived at the zoo 10 days ago. The tigers spent that time in adjoining enclosures to get to know each other and the zoo felt they were ready to interact. When brought together for the first time, Asim attacked and killed 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 Zoological Society of London reported, saying these sort of introductions are always considered to be high risk.
The World Wildlife Fund estimates there are only around 400 Sumatran tigers left due to the toll from poaching, deforestation and encroachment by people in Indonesia.
ZSL London Zoo coordinates a European breeding program and a global species management program. “ZSL’s specialists are responsible for ensuring a healthy and diverse population of tigers in zoos around the world,” says the zoo.
Zoologists and conservation experts have gone to great efforts to assist rare species. Some of these tales have happier endings, as when scientists found a mate for a rare Sehuencas water frog named Romeo. A primate park in the Netherlands turned to a find an eligible bachelor.
ZSL London Zoo says its staff members are devastated by the loss of Melati. The zoo will continue its efforts to preserve the species through its breeding program.
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