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Greater Vancouver Zoo forced to euthanize their oldest tiger due to health issues

Sweetie the Siberian Tiger had to be put down due to ongoing health issues. Greater Vancouver Zoo

Sweetie, a Siberian Tiger, was born at the Greater Vancouver Zoo, and was 18 years old.

Today staff at the zoo had to make the difficult decision to humanely euthanize Sweetie due to ongoing health issues.

Over the past month and a half Sweetie has been under constant veterinary care. As time went on she lost her appetite, had trouble breathing and became increasingly lethargic. A necropsy found that Sweeite had been suffering from a hernia.

Staff tried medication and stimulating her appetite, but her condition continued to decline. So the decision was made to sedate and do further testing, which resulted in their decision to euthanize.

“A hiatal hernia which was almost certainly present since birth and thus was congenital rather than traumatic in origin,” says Dr. Bruce Burton, who completed the necropsy on Sweetie. “She did extremely well to live one year, let alone 18, considering the size of the hernia. It was likely not something we could have repaired surgically and since she was not eating, we felt it was in her best interest (the kindest thing to do) for her to be humanely euthanized. It is unlikely she was in any real discomfort at all.”

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The median life expectancy of female Siberian Tigers is 14 years in captivity.

In the wild there are estimated to be as few as 400 – 500 Siberian Tigers living primarily in eastern Russia, although some exist in China and North Korea.  Tigers are listed as “vulnerable” conservation status by the IUCN (International Union of Conservation of Nature) Red List. Tigers are the largest members of the cat family.

Staff at the Greater Vancouver Zoo say Sweetie was a very special part of their zoo family and will be dearly missed by all.

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