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Malayan tiger at Reid Park Zoo euthanized because of health issues

Malayan tiger at Reid Park Zoo euthanized because of health issues

A Malayan tiger at the Reid Park Zoo was euthanized Friday at 18 years old.

Baheem, one of two tigers at the zoo, was euthanized because of old age and health-related issues, according to a news release from the zoo. His health had been declining over the past few weeks.

A recent health exam confirmed he had ongoing arthritis, kidney disease, pancreatic insufficiency and chronic inflammatory bowel disease, all common in older cats. The exam also revealed valley fever and an enlarged spleen, the news release said.

The median life expectancy for Malayan tigers is 16 years. The zoo’s veterinarian had been treating Baheem for his conditions, but the medications were no longer effective for him, the news release said.

Baheem was born at the Cincinnati Zoo and was transferred to Reid Park Zoo in 2001, when he was less than a year old, said Chelo Grubb, spokeswoman for the zoo.

“Baheem was such a fun tiger to train and care for. He would make chuffing sounds when keepers would greet him in the morning and was always enthusiastic about special treats like bones and popsicles,” said Animal Care Supervisor Rebecca Edwards.

Baheem’s companion, Sita, will still be at the zoo, greeting visitors. Sita turned 18 last spring.

“Baheem’s roars, chuffs, and water-loving antics have always made him a guest-favorite,” the news release said. “He will be missed tremendously by guests and zoo staff alike.”

Sita and Baheem were only together for breeding cycles, as they are otherwise solitary animals, said Sue Tygielski, director of zoo operations.

Still, they could see and hear one another every day while in the habitat, she said.

“Animal care staff will monitor Sita in the coming weeks as we expect the loss of Baheem to impact her as well,” Tygielski said. “Our staff can provide more training time with Sita for companionship and more enrichment as well.”

Malayan tigers are a critically endangered species. It is estimated there are fewer than 350 Malayan tigers in the wild.

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