London Zoo staff used airhorns in bid to save Sumatran tiger

Asim Image copyright PA
Image caption Asim (pictured), whose name means "protector" in Arabic, had been matched with Melati through the European Endangered Species Programme

Staff at London Zoo used airhorns and fire extinguishers in a desperate attempt to stop a male Sumatran tiger from killing his potential mate, park bosses have revealed.

Male tiger Asim had been brought to London Zoo from a Danish safari park recently in the hope he would be the "perfect mate" for Melati.

Everything seemed to go to plan initially, the zoo said.

Then, "in the blink of an eye, they turned on each other".

In an online post entitled 'Reflecting on a difficult day', Kathryn England, chief operating officer at the Regents' Park zoo, wrote: "Initially everything about their meeting was as we expected.

"Part of tigers' natural behaviour is territorial and aggressive, and they are strong and fast animals.

"In the blink of an eye, with no obvious provocation, they turned on each other and our years of experience told us it was beyond normal.

"Everyone sprang into action - lighting flares, sounding airhorns and setting off fire extinguishers and hoses.

"Unfortunately by the time Asim retreated the second time, Melati had been fatally injured."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Melati had seven cubs with a previous partner Jae Jae before he was moved to France last month

Ms England paid tribute to the rare animal, and added: "[Melati] captivated everyone who worked with her; she was beautiful, majestic, spirited - and every inch a tiger."

The zoo announced Asim's arrival from Ree Park Safari in Denmark, on January 29. He was moved to the UK as part of a European-wide conservation breeding programme.

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