Sumatran tiger cub put down after injury
Saturday, July 18, 2009, 07:00
One of four endangered Sumatran tiger cubs born at Paignton Zoo earlier this year has been put down after being severely injured.
The six-month-old female cub Kemala was put to sleep yesterday by zoo veterinary staff after breaking both her shoulders.
Upset keepers are also keeping an eye on a second cub, Aryo, who is limping.
It is thought he may have injured himself in a ‘rough and tumble’ which proved fatal to its sibling.
Less than 600 Sumatran Tigers are left either in the wild or captivity.
A zoo spokesman said staff saw Kemala in difficulties on Thursday morning and acted quickly.
“The cub was taken to the zoo’s in-house vet centre and x-rayed under a general anaesthetic. Keepers and vets found she had broken both of her shoulders. These injuries most likely the result of an awkward fall.”
Keepers, vet staff and the curator of mammals Neil Bemment discussed the injuries, their treatment and the cub’s prospects for recovery.
The decision was taken to put down the cub yesterday.
Speaking afterwards Mr Bemment said: “It was a serious injury, especially for a growing cub. The decision taken was a difficult one but it was the best thing we could do for the welfare of the animal.
“The operation would have been intrusive and risky. If she had made it through then recuperation would have been long and difficult.
“We also had to consider the consequences of taking her out of the family group for treatment and whether we would be able to reintroduce her at a later date.”
A zoo spokesman said the cubs were being raised by their mother in an environment which is as natural as possible.
“There are rocks and trees and they are adventurous young animals eager to explore their environment. At this age they will also play fight,” he said.
“There are risks. Sadly, accidents happen. One of the other cubs, the male named Aryo, is being monitored because he is limping on one of his hind legs, so maybe they were playing together.
“Zoo staff and volunteers are upset. The death is also a blow to the charity’s efforts to help save this endangered species from extinction.”
The four cubs, brothers Aryo and Bintang and sisters Kemala and Surya, were born in February.
They were kept in the den for two months to give them the best chance of bonding with their mother Banda.
Not all four were expected to survive the first few weeks and the zoo was delighted when the quartet emerged to public adulation in April.
The cubs were also credited with an increase in visitor numbers.
The remaining cubs share the public enclosure with mother Banda while father Tenang remains off-show.
Male Sumatrans take no part in the rearing of their offspring.
This is this second time the zoo has had a tiger cub die. In December 2006 male Topan died at seven months old due to a heart condition.
Sumatran tigers are endangered with the wild population of around 350, and 200 to 300 in zoos.
Paignton Zoo is a member of the European endangered species programme for Sumatran tigers.