THE first tiger cub to be born at London Zoo for 17 years has died after drowning in a pool in its enclosure.
Keepers at the zoo are “very distraught” after the cub was discovered on the edge of the pool inside the tigers’ enclosure, a ZSL London Zoo spokeswoman said.
“The keepers are naturally very distraught. They work very closely with the tigers, so it is incredibly sad news for them,” she said.
Five-year-old Sumatran tiger Melati gave birth to the cub two weeks ago, with the event captured on hidden cameras in the den.
Keepers raised the alarm in the early hours of Saturday morning after they noticed that they could not see the cub on the den cameras.
The zoo spokeswoman said a post-mortem examination conducted on Sunday confirmed the cub had drowned.
It is thought that Melati carried the cub outside but keepers are unclear as to how the cub got into the pool as there are no cameras in the wider enclosure.
Keepers are reviewing the situation as it was not envisaged that the mother would take the cub outside so early.
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.
“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.”