Skip to main content

London Zoo's tiger cub, first born at zoo in 17 years, drowns

By Bryony Jones, CNN
October 16, 2013 -- Updated 0248 GMT (1048 HKT)
A tiger at London Zoo gave birth to the cub just three weeks ago.
A tiger at London Zoo gave birth to the cub just three weeks ago.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Keepers "heartbroken" as tiger cub found dead in enclosure at London Zoo
  • Newborn animal believed to have drowned in pond after mother carried it outside
  • Three-week-old cub was first Sumatran tiger to be born at zoo in 17 years

London (CNN) -- Keepers at London Zoo are "distraught" after a newborn tiger cub -- the first Sumatran tiger born there for 17 years -- drowned in a pool at its enclosure.

The animal was born to five-year-old first-time-mom Melati just three weeks ago, and its arrival was greeted with huge excitement and celebration at the zoo, where experts were "over-the-moon" about the birth.

But on Saturday, keepers raised the alarm when they could no longer see the young tiger on cameras inside its den; a search of the enclosure revealed the animal's body.

It is thought Melati carried the cub out into the paddock area of the zoo's "Tiger Territory," where it fell into the pond and drowned.

Meet the newest resident at London Zoo
Animals weighing in at London Zoo
Wanted: Female for last surviving fish

"We're heartbroken by what's happened," said London Zoo's Malcolm Fitzpatrick.

Melati is said to be a very nervous tiger who prefers routine, and experts at the zoo had opted to allow her full access to the whole enclosure fearing that any changes to her environment might cause her to injure or abandon her 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," Fitzpatrick said.

"We didn't want to put her on edge by changing her surroundings or routines, in case she abandoned or attacked the cub."

London Zoo is to carry out a full review of the circumstances which led to the cub's death.

"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," said Fitzpatrick. They are devoted to those tigers and are distraught."

The zoo had kept Melati's pregnancy a secret for about 105 days before her cub was born on September 22.

Hidden cameras were installed in her enclosure to keep watch over her throughout, and the speedy birth, which lasted just six minutes, was also caught on video.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
November 27, 2014 -- Updated 1521 GMT (2321 HKT)
The first human trial of an experimental Ebola vaccine has produced promising results, U.S. scientists said.
November 27, 2014 -- Updated 1415 GMT (2215 HKT)
Darren Wilson, the police officer who fatally shot unarmed black teen in August abandoned home after address made public.
November 25, 2014 -- Updated 2236 GMT (0636 HKT)
HBO -- backing a documentary based on "Going Clear," a book about Scientology and Hollywood -- isn't taking any chances with legal side.
November 26, 2014 -- Updated 1935 GMT (0335 HKT)
Grandmaster Nguyen Van Chieu has devoted his adult life to spreading the word about Vietnames martial art, Vovinam.
November 28, 2014 -- Updated 1847 GMT (0247 HKT)
England cricketer Nick Compton shares insight into "drive and courage" it takes to face fears as top batsman.
November 27, 2014 -- Updated 0059 GMT (0859 HKT)
Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson says he was just doing his "job right" when he shot and killed black teenager Michael Brown.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 0118 GMT (0918 HKT)
The interior of the Formosa Boulevard Mass Rapid Transit Station in Kaohsiung, in southern Taiwan.
Stunning stations where your first priority won't be finding the nearest exit.
November 25, 2014 -- Updated 2318 GMT (0718 HKT)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says women's "nature is different," sparking fury.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 1043 GMT (1843 HKT)
A 30-year-old woman has been charged with attempting to kill a baby police say spent five days down a drain before being discovered by cyclists.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0121 GMT (0921 HKT)
If it wasn't for a comic's skit, Bill Cosby would still be America's favorite father, says expert.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 0051 GMT (0851 HKT)
Where do hip young things hang out in Taiwan?
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1550 GMT (2350 HKT)
Obama orders the most sweeping overhaul of U.S. immigration in decades, prioritizing the deportation of "felons, not families."
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 2106 GMT (0506 HKT)
Fighters loyal to ISIS are now in control of Derna, a city on Libya's Mediterranean coast.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 2319 GMT (0719 HKT)
China and likely other countries have the capacity to shut down the U.S. power grid, says the NSA.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1945 GMT (0345 HKT)
The founder of a U.S. nonprofit that works with returning soldiers is named CNN's Hero of the Year.
November 28, 2014 -- Updated 1754 GMT (0154 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT