Adult Tiger Killed at Canada Zoo, High School Students Witness Fight

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A dead tiger is found during a police action in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, January 8, 2014.
A dead tiger is found during a police action in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, January 8, 2014. According to local media, two men carrying a sack with the tiger raised police's suspicion as they moved the sack into a van. Initial examination shown it was an adult Siberian tiger. Picture taken January 8, 2014. REUTERS/China Daily

A group of Canadian students from high school watched two tigers violently fighting against each at a zoo they visited on Thursday.

The incident took place in the Assiniboine Park Zoo where a 19-year-old male tiger named Baikal was killed by a younger one. According to zoo officials, the gate was left unlocked by mistake. That was how Baikal managed to enter another enclosure where there were two younger males, Vasili and Samkha. Baikal got into a fight with Vasili, which eventually killed the older one. According to the director of zoological operations at the zoo - Brian Joseph, it was heart-breaking for both the visitors and the staff.

CBC News reported that the entire incident might have been witnessed by a group of high school students who had visited the zoo. Lord Selkirk School Division superintendent Scott Kwasnitza said that a group of 25 students was near the enclosure when the tigers had the fight. The group of students of around 16 years of age might have seen the fight, Kwasnitza claimed. He said that the students offered counselling as a preventive measure as it would be difficult to determine how the incident influenced them on the psychological level.

Kwasnitza said that the parents had been informed about the incident. The parents were also notified that the safety of the students had never been compromised, he said. Margaret Redmond, the president of the Assiniboine Zoo Conservancy, also confirmed that the students had been present near the enclosure during the earlier stages of the fight. She, however, said that the students had been taken away from the scene before they could witness "anything too unfortunate," Vancouver Sun reported.

According to Dr. Chris Enright - the chief veterinarian at the zoo, tigers are left alone when they reach adulthood. While the two younger tigers lived together, the adult one (Baikal) lived by all by itself. He also said that Vasili was the potential winner as he was defending its territory. "Any tiger, they're a 350-pound predator, has the potential to act aggressively in defence of itself, Enright said, "It is a tiger defending his territory against another male that he would only see as a rival. You can't fault a tiger for being a tiger."

Contact the writer: s.mukhopadhyay@ibtimes.com.au

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