Reid Park Zoo is very sad to announce the death of Baheem, the 18-year-old Malayan tiger.
“Baheem was such a fun tiger to train and care for. He would make chuffing sounds when keepers would greet him in the morning and was always enthusiastic about special treats like bones and popsicles,” said Animal Care Supervisor Rebecca Edwards.
At 18 years old, Baheem was a geriatric tiger. The median life expectancy for this species is 16 years. Baheem started to develop conditions like arthritis and chronic kidney disease over the last few years, and in recent months he had developed pancreatic insufficiency and chronic inflammatory bowel disease. All of these diseases are common in older cats.
Over the past few weeks, Baheem’s health started to decline. He was brought up to the Zoo’s Animal Health Center as his appetite decreased. His health exam confirmed ongoing arthritis, kidney disease, pancreatic insufficiency, and chronic inflammatory bowel disease, but also revealed valley fever and a greatly enlarged spleen. The Zoo’s veterinarian had been treating Baheem for these conditions and although he responded to medications initially, they were no longer effective for him. He was humanely euthanized on Friday, January 31.
Baheem and his companion Sita have greeted visitors as the first animals they see upon entering the Zoo for many years. Baheem’s roars, chuffs, and water-loving antics have always made him a guest-favorite. He will be missed tremendously by guests and Zoo staff alike.
Sita, who also turned 18 last spring, can still be seen at the Zoo.
“Tigers are generally solitary animals, with the exception of the breeding season. While Sita and Baheem were only together for breeding cycles, they could see and hear one another while on habitat daily. Animal care staff will monitor Sita in the coming weeks as we expect the loss of Baheem to impact her as well. Our staff can provide more training time with Sita for companionship and more enrichment as well,” said Sue Tygielski, Director of Zoo Operations.
Baheem and Sita have served as important ambassadors for Malayan tigers, a critically endangered species. Today, it is estimated there are fewer than 350 Malayan tigers in the wild. You can take steps to aid the survival of this species by supporting companies that use sustainably harvested palm oil, thereby preserving important tiger habitat.