EXPIRED: 02/14/10 – Tonghua, 17, was a Siberian tiger who, until recently, loved to eat rabbits.
He was born in Switzerland but who spent the last 10 years in the Toronto Zoo in Toronto, Canada.
Zookeepers claim Tonghua’s health had been declining in recent weeks. Over the Valentine’s Day weekend, he was given a favorite meal – rabbit meat – and when he was totally uninterested – they knew there was a big problem.
Veterinarians at the zoo sedated him to run tests – on his liver and spleen – but Tonghua never woke up from the sedatives.
In hindsight, Zoo officials suspect an as yet undetected cancer.
Over his lifetime Tonghua fathered nine cubs with his mate Tatiana. Both were considered vital to the North America Species Survival Plan, aimed at getting the Siberian tiger — officially known as the Amur Tiger — off the endangered species list. Only about 600 remain worldwide.
The average lifespan of the Siberian tiger is about 26 years, both in captivity and the wild, so Tonghua died quite young indeed.