LANSING, Mich. — He’s been a fixture at the Potter Park Zoo for over 15 years, but zoo officials say Sivaki the Amur tiger was put to sleep earlier this week.
The 16-year-old male tiger was born at the zoo in 2005 but recently developed a spinal condition that impacted his quality of life.
The Amur tiger is a breed that is listed as a critically endangered species, and Sivaki sired many cubs while living at the Potter Park Zoo.
One zoo official says he had a big personality that matched his big cat presence which he showed off during an enrichment exercise with a deer hide attached to a spring.
“It helps them with their brain. That's why we do enrichment. It helps them with stay healthier. He took the hide off to a corner and he ate the whole thing! (laughs) He’d never done that before," said Education Curator Dennis Laidler.
Sivaki was born at the Zoo and was part of a litter of four tiger cub.
Laidler says Sivaki and his siblings were an important part of understanding this tiger species because they all contracted an illness as babies and were treated on-site.
The cubs were vaccinated against the virus and then their blood samples were studied.
It was through that research that scientists discovered the vaccine wore off quicker than they thought.
There are only about 500 Amur tigers in the world.
The Zoo is starting the process of getting another tiger.
Laidler said it will take time because the process of getting an Amur tiger is lengthy.
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