A female Amur tiger was swiftly mauled to death after staff at a safari park tried to have her mate with a male tiger of the same endangered species.
The devastating incident took place at Knowsley Safari Park in Prescot, Merseyside, in front of horrified staff who had no time to intervene due to the speed and brutality of the attack.
As part of a breeding programme, staff at the park had attempted to mix 14-year-old Sinda with a tiger she had mated with several times in the past, called Miron.
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The official line is that Sinda suffered a "bite injury", and that it was immediately fatal, the Manchester Evening News reported.
In a statement on its Facebook page, a park spokesperson said: "We are sad to announce the loss of Sinda, our 14-year-old female Amur Tiger.
"Sinda sustained fatal injuries during a mixing with our male tiger, Miron, as part of a European breeding programme, on Saturday 12th November 2022.
"Miron arrived at Knowsley Safari in 2020, he’d been mixed with Sinda successfully on several previous occasions. This introduction, like previous ones, was carefully managed by our expert animal team, taking into account each tiger’s behaviour and following the same rigorous procedures.
"Before the mixing, normal positive character traits were seen with no signs of aggression. Due to the speed of the incident, there was unfortunately nothing that could be done to intervene and Sinda died instantly from her injuries.
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"Sinda was a very popular tiger with visitors and keepers alike and had been at Knowsley Safari since 2010 – she will be greatly missed. Our focus is now on ensuring that both our team and Miron are cared for during this difficult time."
Knowsley has shared information on its website to answer questions people may have about the breeding programme and how the incident came about.
It explains that the pair were introduced because Amur tigers are an endangered species, with only around 500 remaining in the wild.
"Miron and Sinda were mixed several times during the last two years in the hope we could support the EAZA* Ex Situ breeding programme (EEP)," it says,
The website added that any such animal introduction "carries an element of risk", with this type of incident is "naturally seen in big cats in the wild".
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