The two endangered Malayan tigers were involved in the mating process Saturday before guests arrived at the zoo, but it appeared as though the male tiger, Conner became a little too rough with the female, Tiga Tahun, U-T San Diego reported Monday.
"It's hard for us to know if he was a little too rough. There's just no way to know," zoo spokeswoman Christina Simmons said. "They were friendly, she was rolling on her back, they went into the breeding act, and then at some point she was injured and died."
It is common for the male tiger to bite the back of the female tiger's neck during mating.
"We do these breedings under supervision because we know what the outcome can be although this happens very, very rarely. Often the male will grab the [female] by the back of the neck, which is part of breeding behavior, and sometimes you get an overzealous animal who takes it a little too far. It's the nature of the beast," said Mike Dulaney, vice coordinator for the Malayan tiger species survival program.
Tara Harris, coordinator for the species survival program, said Malayan tigers are highly endangered in the wild.