Rare tiger cub accidentally crushed to death by its mother at Dublin Zoo
"For us to step in at this stage would be futile."
Zookeepers at Dublin Zoo have described their despair at seeing a tiger crush her newborn cub.
Tundra, an Amur tiger, inadvertently lay on top of the cub moments after giving birth.
The zookeepers watched the tragedy unfold via a live camera feed but couldn't intervene as they may have gotten in the way of further births.
They saw the tiger turn her back to the cub as she cleaned herself before lying back on top of it.
"I knew that was going to happen because of the position alone – it’s underneath her now and she’s cleaning herself," says zoo keeper Ciarán McMahon in tonight's episode of The Zoo on RTÉ One.
"For us to step in at this stage would be futile for her wellbeing and for the cubs that are still inside her.
“So we just let the natural process take place now. Maybe for the second cub things will be different – and maybe a third cub, we don’t know, but we certainly won’t interfere at this stage.”
Shortly after this, Tundra gave birth to another cub.
She was immediately more attentive, licking her newborn.
Minutes later she gave birth again to a third cub.
"Two hours ago we had a cub in the ground after waiting so long. Then inadvertently she lies on it and loses the cub and now you have two cubs born there.
“We are over the moon – fingers crossed, it’s still a very early stage. We have waited 20 years for this.”
Happily, both cubs survived.
Both female, they are shown to be thriving later in the episode.
The Zoo airs on RTÉ One at 6.30pm this evening.