POSTED: 3:03 pm EDT March 17, 2008
Louisville, Ky. (WHAS11) – Boris, a 17-year-old Amur tiger, died at the Louisville Zoo Sunday, March 16. Seventeen is considered to be geriatric for big cats.
After staff observed Boris having a seizure on March 5, they kept a close eye on him. When he had another seizure a couple of days later, Zoo veterinary staff did a complete medical work up. Even though a cause of the seizures could not be determined, Boris was given medication to try to control them. But it didn’t work.
“Our medical evaluation suggested the cause of the seizures was most likely in his brain,” Louisville Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Roy Burns said.
On Sunday Boris wasn’t doing well and began to have more seizures despite treatment.
“His prognosis was not good,” Burns said. “The medication to control the seizures was not working, and he was also showing signs of spinal disease suggested by weakness and instability in his rear legs.”
Zoo staff then made the decision to humanely euthanize Boris.
“We miss him terribly,” said Dave Hodge, a keeper who cared for Boris, “but we knew it was time to let him go.”
Staff members who worked closely with Boris surrounded him as he passed away. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
“I had my hand on his chest as I said my final goodbye,” Hodge said. “I will really miss him.”
Boris weighed more than 400 pounds in his prime, and although he was every bit a wild animal, staff described working with him as easy.
“Boris was really personable,” Hodge said. “Even though he was big and tough, he really enjoyed greeting visitors when they came to see him at his exhibit. He was definitely a special cat.”
Boris was one of a set of triplets born at the Louisville Zoo in 1990. He was sent to the Ellen Trout Zoo in Lufkin, Texas in 1994 and returned to the Louisville Zoo in 2002.
He has two female offspring?Anya and Irisa?currently living at the Columbus Zoo.
The Louisville Zoo now has one Amur tiger (16-year-old Sinda) and is working with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan to bring in more Amur tigers.
AMUR TIGER INFORMATION
Amur tigers are the largest of the tiger subspecies. Males can grow up to 10 foot 9 inches long and weigh up to 660 pounds. Females are smaller, measuring about 8 ½ feet from head to tail, and weighing about 200 to 370 pounds. The Amur orange coloring is paler than the coloring of other tigers. Its stripes are brown rather than black, and are widely spaced. It has a white chest and belly, and a thick white ruff of fur around its neck.
It is estimated there are about 500 Amur tigers left in the wild. In captivity there are about 150 Amur tigers in North America and about 315 overseas.
?Information from Save the Tiger Fund ( http://www.savethetigerfund.org/)
The Louisville Zoo, a non-profit organization and state zoo of Kentucky, is dedicated to bettering the bond between people and our planet by providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for visitors, and leadership in scientific research and conservation education. The Zoo is accredited by the American Association of Museums (AAM) and by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). For more information visit http://www.louisvillezoo.org/.
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