A Sumatran tiger was killed by another tiger when the pair was being introduced at the Sacramento Zoo, the facility announced Wednesday.
Baha, a 15-year-old female tiger, was meeting Mohan, the zoo’s male tiger, yesterday morning when the attack occurred. When Mohan became aggressive, zookeepers tried to separate the two tigers, but by the time they pulled him off Baha, she was already dead.
“We are truly devastated at the passing of Baha,” Matt McKim, Animal Collection Director, said in a statement. “Not only was she a wonderful ambassador and a truly attentive mother, she was also a one-of-a-kind tiger that inspired many.”
Baha had been at the zoo since 2002. She had been introduced to other male tigers as part of an accredited zoos Species Survival Plan and five of her offspring are alive and doing well.
Mohan, an 11-year-old male tiger, only landed at the zoo late last year after a well-orchestrated move from the Memphis Zoo as part of an international breeding effort.
There are perhaps 500 Sumatran tigers left in the wild, and another 200 in zoos around the world.
“Mohan and Baha, the Zoo’s resident female Sumatran Tiger, will not be on exhibit together until they have undergone an extensive ‘meet and greet’ process,” the zoo said in a blog post back in December. “Before the two tigers can begin to live comfortably together, zookeepers will introduce them first to the smell and sight of one another. After Mohan and Baha are comfortable being side by side, keepers will physically introduce them together and they will begin sharing the same space.”
Based on expert advice and successful past introductions, zookeepers settled on Wednesday to physically introduce the tigers.
“Staff had been monitoring his and Baha’s behavior daily as they had visual contact with each other. Both tigers’ behavior indicated that this was the proper time for physical introductions,” the zoo said yesterday.
While some were critical of keeping animals in captivity, animal lovers offered condolences on the zoo’s Facebook page. Among them, the Dallas Zoo, which posted:
“We are so very sorry for your loss. Our beloved Kipling is Baha’s son, as beautiful as his mother. We know you take excellent care of these cats; but they are, after all, wild animals, and we understand all too well how things like this happen. Our staff sends yours much love, and you are in our thoughts.”
Photos Sacramento Zoo/Facebook