A three-year-old male white tiger succumbed to injuries suffered during a fight with its potential mate, a nine-year-old Royal Bengal tigress

A three-year-old male white tiger succumbed to injuries suffered during a fight with its potential mate, a nine-year-old Royal Bengal tigress, at Vandalur Zoo on Thursday.

The tigress, also severely injured following the fight, is battling for life.

Deep wounds in the brain had resulted in the tiger’s death, a zoo official said. The incident comes as a blow to officials at the Arignar Anna Zoological Park in Vandalur. They have been trying to prevent in-breeding among white tigers and strengthen the species gene through cross breeding.

Christened by former Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi in September 2010, the deceased white tiger, Sembian, was paired with a nine-year-old Royal Bengal tigress, Sathya, a few months ago.

The Royal Bengal tigress was brought from the Indira Gandhi Zoological park in Visakhapatanam in December 2012 in exchange of a female bison from Vandalur.

The tigers were kept in separate cages in a common enclosure but away from the other big cats in order to help them get close to each other.

On August 7, zoo officials left Sembian and Sathya together but less than an hour later, the tigers came to blows and severely injured each other. By the time zoo officials reached the enclosure, the animals were bleeding heavily and had deep wounds in the head, stomach and legs. The pair was taken to the veterinary clinic inside the zoo and treated. After a prolonged battle, Sembian died on Thursday.

According to a zoo vet, unlike other white tigers at the zoo, Sembian was largely black in colour due to dominance of pigment melanin in his skin. “The unusual colour might have made it difficult for Sathya to accept Sembian resulting in a fight between the two,” the vet said.

Earlier, this year, the zoo officials were successful in producing three healthy cubs from the cross-breeding of another Royal Bengal tiger and white tigress. Currently, the zoo has 13 white tigers and 10 Royal Bengal tigers.

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