TUCSON (KVOA) - The Tucson community is mourning the death of Sita the Tiger after the 19-year-old Maylan tiger was humanely euthanized Thursday at Reid Park Zoo.
Since joining the Reid Park Zoo family in 2011, the big cat was one of the first sights visitors would see after entering through the front gates. Zoo officials said she would usually welcome them with a friendly roar, a nice swimming display in her pool or just a close look when she lounged in front of the glass windows of her habitat.
“This time at our Zoo is particularly difficult as we recently lost our male lion, Shombay, about a week ago from kidney failure. Baheem, the Zoo’s 18-year-old male tiger, passed away earlier this year from geriatric conditions," said Dr. Sue Tygielski, director of zoological operations. "Our staff and all the fans of our big cats are mourning the loss of all three of these magnificent individuals. The animal care and veterinary teams have done a tremendous job caring for our aging animals and those with chronic disease. We were all aware that this day would come, but it does not make it any easier.”
The tiger was diagnosed with kidney disease when she was 7 years old and was treated with a variety of medications, as she developed arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and pancreatic insufficiency as she got older.
Reid Park Zoo said its health team decided to humanely euthanized Sita after she was observed to be extremely lethargic and the zoo veterinarian determined her kidney disease had significantly progressed.
“Kidney disease is a common condition in elderly domestic cats and we frequently see it in big cats as well. The condition is treated the same in large and small cats, with oral medication and fluids,” Dr. Alexis Roth, chief veterinarian said. “In animals we cannot do dialysis like in humans and ultimately the treatments we can provide are only successful for a limited period.”
According to the zoo, the median life expectancy for Malyan tigers is 16 years.