19 year-old tiger dies at Racine Zoo

Racine Zoological Society announced the zoo's 19-year old Amur tiger died on May 12.

The tiger, Niki, was one of the country's oldest tigers under human care.

Niki was considered geriatric and was under veterinary care while Racine Zoo staff worked to ensure her comfort throughout the last years of her life. Earlier this month, staff noticed Niki was demonstrating atypical behavior and loss of appetite. The primary veterinary team was called in Saturday to monitor the situation which worsened by Sunday morning. The Zoo's animal health team is currently conducting a full necropsy, an animal autopsy, and findings will be released in the coming weeks.

“This is a very difficult time for our zoo family as we mourn the loss of Niki, a beloved animal and dear friend to our staff, members, and community,” said Beth Heidorn, Racine Zoo's Executive Director. “Niki lived a long, healthful life here at the Zoo under the care of dedicated keepers and staff. We will all miss her greatly.”

Niki was born on July 14, 1995 at the Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City Kansas and later moved to the Toledo Zoo in 1997. In 2001, Niki was loaned to the Racine Zoo where she stayed the remainder of her life.

Mainly found in Russia, Amur tigers are considered critically endangered with only an estimated 350 to 400 animals left in the wild. Main threats to Amur tigers are poaching and habitat loss which amount to 85 percent of all wild Amur tiger deaths. The Racine Zoo will host International Tiger Day, Saturday, July 18 to raise awareness of conservation initiatives designed to help save the Amur tiger.

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