Black Pine’s runaway tiger dies of cancer

Avatar BCR | September 19, 2009 18 Views 0 Likes 0 Ratings

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Black Pine’s runaway tiger dies of cancer

Becky Manley
The Journal Gazette
Published: September 19, 2009 3:00 a.m.

India, the Bengal tiger that caused a commotion when she escaped from Black Pine Animal Park in Noble County last December, has died.

Park officials and volunteers became concerned for the cat about two weeks ago when she began shunning her daily allotment of about 10 pounds of meat.

During exploratory surgery Thursday, a Kendallville veterinarian confirmed the worst.

“She was full of cancer,” said Lori Gagen, Black Pine’s executive director.

Gagen and other park staff members present during the surgery made the difficult decision to euthanize the 19-year-old tiger.

“Her lack of appetite was really the only symptom we had over the last two weeks,” Gagen said.

India, known for her sweet temperament, was the focus of a large-scale search in December involving the Noble County Sheriff’s Department, Albion Police Department, Albion firefighters, Indiana conservation officers and Indiana State Police. The search was launched after a man told Albion police he had spotted a tiger along a county road.

After hours spent in the fields and woods near the spot where India was seen, searchers gave up as the light faded and fog set in. The cat later returned to the park.

Now buried at the park, India is the park’s fourth large animal to die within about a year. The other animals were black bears Mr. Bear and Isaac, both retired circus performers, and a cougar named Cody who came to the park after state officials found him malnourished in a man’s basement.

The animals were among those Gagen called “the originals” who found refuge at the park about the time it opened in 1995. As the animals aged, Gagen said the park’s staff and volunteers knew the time would come when they would likely endure multiple deaths.

“This period of time was fully expected to happen,” Gagen said.

Gagen posted news about India’s death on the park’s Facebook page and, by early-afternoon Friday, about 20 people had posted messages.

“There’s been a great outpouring of sadness and appreciation that the park gave her a good life,” Gagen said.

As a result of the deaths, the park’s leopards and tigers currently housed in temporary enclosures will be moved to more spacious permanent habitats. A black bear and a lion remain in temporary enclosures, Gagen said.

The temporary enclosures prompted the park’s board to decide recently it might not take new animals because it relies on volunteers and donated materials, Gagen said.

The park recently turned away seven animals seeking homes after an Indiana zoo closed, Gagen said.

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