Raja the tiger dies at Reid Park Zoo
By Rob O’Dell
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
A 7-year-old Indochinese tiger died Thursday at the Reid Park Zoo, possibly from a heart condition, officials said.
Zookeepers saw the tiger, named Raja, at about 2 p.m. and it seemed to be normal, said Fred Gray, the city’s Parks and Recreation director.
But an hour later, zookeepers found the tiger dead in its cage, Gray said.
Many tigers live to be in their late teens or early 20s, said Vivian VanPeenen, the zoo’s curator of education.
“This certainly was not an age-related death,” she said. “Preliminary results show it may have been a heart issue, although it’s way too early to tell that.”
VanPeenen said the zoo’s first examination of the tiger found abnormal spots on its heart.
“They found unusual tissue with his heart,” she said.
More results will be available in the next few days, although the results of the full examination, called a necropsy, won’t be available for weeks, she said.
This is the first animal to die at Reid Park since zoo officials euthanized an elderly giraffe in late April, VanPeenen said.
Raja had arrived at the zoo in October 2001.
Raja’s twin brother, Baheem, is still living at the zoo, and should adjust well because young male tigers typically live on their own in the wild, VanPeenen said.
Also called Malayan tigers, Indochinese tigers are found in Asia, including India and China.
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