Saturday, March 29, 2008

Louisville's zoo loses tiger to seizures

The tiger named Boris died March 16, 10 days after the zoo staff observed the big cat suffering a seizure. He had a second seizure several days later. At age 17, Boris was considered old for a big cat.

Even though a cause of the seizures could not be determined, Boris was given medication in an effort to control them.

"Our medical evaluation suggested the cause of the seizures was most likely in his brain," said Dr. Roy Burns, the zoo's veterinarian.

Boris began to have more seizures on March 16, 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 euthanize Boris.

"We miss him terribly," said Dave Hodge, a keeper who cared for Boris, who weighed more than 400 pounds in his prime. "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 zoo in 1990. He was sent to the Ellen Trout Zoo in Lufkin, Texas, in 1994 and then returned to the Louisville Zoo in 2002.

He sired two female offspring, both of whom are now housed at the zoo in Columbus, Ohio.
The death leaves the Louisville Zoo with just one Amur tiger, 16-year-old Sinda, and three Sumatran tigers. The zoo is working with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to bring in at least one more Amur tiger.

There are about 500 Amur tigers left in the wild. Their native habitat is primarily far eastern Russia. In captivity, there are about 150 in North America and about 315 overseas.


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