Dayton Daily News

First date for zoo’s 2 rare tigers ends in sudden death

- YonetteJos­eph

LONDON — The courtship went on for 10 days. They were kept apart, but tantalizin­gly close enough so that each could see, hear and smell the other.

When the matchmaker­s believed the time and the place were right — Friday at London Zoo — the rare Sumatran tiger called Asim and a female named Melati were put in the same enclosure together.

He promptly killed her — moments after they were introduced for the fifirst time.

The animal’s handlers scrambled to intervene, the zoo said, “using loud noises, flflares and alarms to try and distract the pair, but Asim had already overpowere­d Melati.”

Keepers eventually were able to shepherdAs­im into a separate paddock. Vets then confifirme­d Melati had died.

“Everyone at ZSL London Zoo is devastated by the loss ofMelati, andweare heartbroke­n by this turn of events,” the zoo added in a statement.

Melatiwas1­0andhadbee­n a longtime resident of the zoo. Asim, age7, arrivedfro­m Ree Park Safari in Denmark onJan. 29 with an announceme­nt that trumpeted “New stripes in town.”

Thematch was organized as part of a Europe-wide conservati­on program for Sumatran tigers, which are found inthewildo­nly onthe Indonesian island of Sumatra. The World Wide Fund for Nature says fewer than 400 exist today, down from an estimated 1,000 in 1978.

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