Horror at London Zoo: Female tiger Melati is brutally mauled to death by potential breeding mate just MINUTES after the victim was introduced to her Danish date for the first time
- London Zoo say Melati was mauled to death by the male on their first encounter
- Asim, the male, had been kept in an adjoining enclosure prior to their meeting
- The younger tiger killed Melati in an interaction which ‘quickly escalated’
- Zoo keepers attempted to intervene with flares and loud noises but failed
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.
The zoo says 10-year-old Melati died on Friday during her first encounter with Asim, a seven-year-old male who was shipped in from Denmark last month.
The two tigers had been kept in adjoining enclosures for 10 days so they could get used to one another, but their first meeting ‘quickly escalated into a more aggressive interaction.’
Zoo keepers intervened with loud noises, flares and alarms but could not prevent Asim’s fatal attack.
London Zoo’s beloved Sumatran tigress Melati (pictured) died while being introduced to new male Asim for the first time
Asim, whose name means ‘Protector’ in Arabic, was moved to the zoo as a new mate for resident female, Melati
Melati a female Sumatran tiger walks past her frozen pool at London Zoo in 2013
The zoo said staff are ‘devastated by the loss of Melati, and we are heartbroken by this turn of events.’
In their statement London Zoo described how the door was slid open for the first time, after the big cats had been given time to get used to each other’s scents.
They were initially apprehensive as they sized each other up – but this was what experts anticipated – however, the ferocity and speed of their change in attitude was overwhelming.
As they tried to implement their prepared distraction tactic, the younger male overpowered Melati.
Asim was eventually secured and removed to another paddock, but as vets rushed to Melati’s side they found she had died.
London Zoo said the tiger closure would remain closed while they ‘focus on caring for Asim.’
Zoologists had hoped the two tigers would breed as part of a Europe-wide tiger conservation program for the endangered Sumatran subspecies.
The zoo’s head tiger keeper Kathryn Sanders said last month: ‘Asim arrived yesterday after catching the ferry from France and immediately made himself at home in his new, cosy den.
‘He got up bright and early this morning and got to work exploring his territory – we’ve spotted him lounging on his heated rocks and even dipping his paws in his new swimming pool.
‘Asim is a handsome, confident cat who is known for being very affectionate with the ladies in his life – we’re hoping he’ll be the perfect mate for our beautiful Melati.’
Melati had previously given birth to tiger cub twins in 2016 at the zoo.
Asim – whose name means ‘Protector’ in Arabic – had been matched with Melati through the European Endangered Species Programme for Sumatran tigers.
He was shipped across the Channel coming from Ree Park Safari in Denmark via France.
Meanwhile London Zoo’s previous male resident, Jae Jae, was moved to French zoo Le Parc des Félins, where he is hoping to start a new family.
The species are critically endangered, with just 400 recorded in the wild, it is therefore vital that conservationists work to breed them.
Sumatran tigers are the smallest surviving subspecies of tigers in the world, with just 400 recorded in the wild.
They are clinging to survival on their native island of Sumatra in Indonesia, where much of their habitat has been desecrated by humans.
Their unique environment is the only place in the world where rhinos, orangutans and elephants live together with tigers.
Critically Endangered Sumatran tiger cub twins snuggle up to their mother at London Zoo
Ever-growing levels of deforestation, as well as horrifying levels of poaching have decimated the population of the majestic predator.
The tigers are killed largely for trade on the black market, with tiger bones being used in traditional Chinese medicine in tiger bone wine.
The WWF estimate that up to 40 Sumatran tigers are slaughtered each year by poachers.
Another problem is created by encroachment onto their habitat and when the tigers naturally react aggressively, villagers kill them for retribution.
Their relatives in the Javan and Balinese forests have been extinct for years and conservationists fear they could meet the same fate.