Tiger dies after rescue from Indonesian 'death zoo'

In this file photo taken on April 17, 2013, an ailing critically endangered Sumatran tiger named Melani is fed from an enclosure at the Surabaya Zoo. -- PHOTO: AFP
In this file photo taken on April 17, 2013, an ailing critically endangered Sumatran tiger named Melani is fed from an enclosure at the Surabaya Zoo. -- PHOTO: AFP
In this file photo taken on April 17, 2013, an ailing critically endangered Sumatran tiger named Melani is seen from an enclosure at the Surabaya Zoo. Melani has died a year after being rescued from the centre where hundreds of animals have peri
In this file photo taken on April 17, 2013, an ailing critically endangered Sumatran tiger named Melani is seen from an enclosure at the Surabaya Zoo. Melani has died a year after being rescued from the centre where hundreds of animals have perished, an official said on Tuesday. -- PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (AFP) - An emaciated Sumatran tiger, whose plight highlighted horrific conditions at an Indonesian zoo, has died a year after being rescued from the centre where hundreds of animals have perished, an official said Tuesday.

Pictures of painfully thin tigress Melani in an overgrown enclosure, with her fur matted and dull, caused shock when they were published last year and increased calls for action to be taken against Surabaya zoo.

It has been dubbed the "death zoo" as so many animals have died there prematurely in recent years owning to neglect, including several orangutans, a tiger and a giraffe.

The management of the zoo - Indonesia's largest - has been taken over by the Surabaya city administration, but the deaths have not stopped and animal welfare groups continue to call for its closure.

After the pictures of Melani were published and officials warned the critically endangered tiger was on the brink of death, she was taken from the zoo to a safari park south of the capital Jakarta in July last year.

She was suffering from a serious digestive disorder after being fed tainted meat at the zoo on the main island of Java.

The 16-year-old was placed in a special enclosure with a vet assigned to care for her.

But more than a year of specialist care was not enough to save her, and she died in her sleep last month, Mr Tony Sumampau, chief of Indonesia's zoo association, told AFP.

The zoo association originally wanted to put her down in September last year but they changed their minds after a protest by activists.

"But she was truly suffering. You could see it in her face.... It was pitiful," Mr Sumampau said.

There are estimated to be only several hundred Sumatran tigers left in the wild.