December 7 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Keepers at London Zoo are said to be ‘very distraught’ after the first tiger cub to be born there for 17 years died.
The two-week-old animal was discovered on the edge of the pool inside their enclosure on Saturday morning, a spokesman for ZSL London Zoo said.
He said a post-mortem examination conducted on Sunday confirmed the cub had drowned.
It is thought its mother Melati carried the cub outside, but keepers are unclear as to how the cub got into the water.
The zoo spokesman said: “The keepers are naturally very distraught.
“They work very closely with the tigers, so it is incredibly sad news for them.”
A fortnight ago the moment five-year-old Sumatran tiger Melati gave birth to the cub was captured on hidden cameras in the den, but today curator Malcolm Fitzpatrick said: “We’re heartbroken by what’s happened.
“To go from the excitement of the birth to this in three weeks is just devastating.”
He said keepers did not think she would take the cub outside so soon, adding: “Melati can be a very nervous animal and we didn’t want to risk putting her on edge by changing her surroundings or routines, in case she abandoned or attacked the cub.
“At the time we thought it was in the best interests of Melati and her cub to allow her continued access to the full enclosure as normal.
“We would do anything to turn back the clock, and nobody could be more upset about what’s happened than the keepers who work with the tigers every day.
“They are devoted to those tigers and are distraught.”
The cub, which was too young to be either sexed or named by keepers, was born six months after the opening of the new ‘tiger territory’ at London Zoo, designed to encourage breeding of the critically-endangered sub-species.
Melati’s pregnancy was kept secret by zookeepers, who kept an eye on the first-time mother through hidden cameras so they would not disturb her.