Oldest tiger at Vancouver zoo dies

Sweetie the Siberian tiger, seen in a photo released by the Greater Vancouver Zoo. - Supplied
Sweetie the Siberian tiger, seen in a photo released by the Greater Vancouver Zoo.
— image credit: Supplied

The oldest tiger at the Greater Vancouver Zoo in Aldergrove had to be euthanized on New Year's Eve.

A written statement issued by the zoo said Sweetie, the Siberian tiger, had to be put down on Tuesday "as a result of continued concern regarding her loss of appetite, respiratory distress and being lethargic."

Sweetie had been in poor health for the last month and a half, the zoo said.

"We have tried medication and stimulating her appetite, but her condition continued to decline," the statement said.

A release issued by the zoo on Thursday evening said that a necropsy indicated the cat had a large hernia on her diaphragm, believed to have been present since birth.

The hernia was "likely not something we could have repaired surgically and since she was not eating, we felt it was in her best interest . . . to be humanely euthanized," zoo veterinarian, Dr. Bruce Burton, stated in the release.

The 18-year-old Sweetie was born at the Greater Vancouver Zoo.

"Sweetie was a very special part of our zoo family and will be dearly missed by all … rest in peace."

The statement added 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 to 500 Siberian tigers living primarily in eastern Russia, although some exist in China and North Korea.

Tigers are listed as a “vulnerable” species by the the International Union of Conservation of Nature Red List.

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