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Male tiger kills female in breeding intro at Tacoma zoo

October 5, 2021 GMT

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — A female Sumatran tiger from Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma has died after another tiger attacked her during a breeding introduction, officials said.

Six-year-old tiger Kirana, who was born at the zoo, died Monday, The News Tribune reported.

Dr. Karen Wolf, the zoo’s head veterinarian, said in a news release that a necropsy completed Monday confirmed Kirana died from substantial trauma from injuries and a bacterial infection.

Zoo staff had slowly introduced Kirana and Raja, the zoo’s 2-year-old male Sumatran tiger as part of a plan to help save the endangered species. The two were closely monitored and separated by a mesh door, staff said.

When zoo keepers removed the barrier to allow the tigers to meet physically Friday, Kirana was attacked and staff moved quickly to separate them, officials said.

“We’re devastated by the loss of a very special tiger and by the loss to the tiger population as a whole,” said zoo general curator Dr. Karen Goodrowe, who is also coordinator of Species Survival Plan programs for Sumatran, Malayan and Amur tigers, said some aggression is natural in tiger breeding but this level was far beyond expectations.

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The Tacoma zoo has introduced four Sumatran tiger pairs since 2010 and none has resulted in a tiger death or serious injury, according to Goodrowe.

There are only about 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Fewer than 80 Sumatran tigers live in North American zoos.