Reid Park Zoo Says Goodbye to a Favorite Face, Sita the Malayan Tiger

Today, Reid Park Zoo said goodbye to a wonderful animal: Sita, the 19-year-old Malayan tiger. She was humanely euthanized for advanced kidney disease. The median life expectancy for Malayan tigers is 16 years.

Reid Park Zoo welcomed Sita in 2011, and for the past nine years, she has been one of the first animals guests see as they enter the Zoo. She would often delight onlookers as she engaged with enrichment, swimming in her pool, and lounging along the glass windows at the front of the habitat.

Before coming to Reid Park Zoo, Sita developed kidney disease at the young age of 7. Over the years, Sita received treatment for her kidneys as well as a variety of medications for her arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and pancreatic insufficiency as she aged.

The arthritis treatment helped Sita continue moving around comfortably, even chasing wild birds in her habitat in the last few weeks. However, on Monday of this week, she showed extreme lethargy and was moved to the Zoo’s Health Center for a full exam. Dr. Roth, Zoo Veterinarian, found her kidney disease had progressed and her health had significantly declined.

“Kidney disease is a common condition in elderly domestic cats and we frequently see it in big cats as well. The condition is treated the same in large and small cats, with oral medication and fluids,” Roth said. “In animals we cannot do dialysis like in humans and ultimately the treatments we can provide are only successful for a limited period.”

While Sita had been running and enjoying her habitat just a few days ago, her decline was rapid. Even with supplemental fluids given at the Health Center, she was not responding to treatment. She was humanely euthanized on Thursday morning.

“This time at our Zoo is particularly difficult as we recently lost our male lion, Shombay, about a week ago from kidney failure. Baheem, the Zoo’s 18-year-old male tiger, passed away earlier this year from geriatric conditions. Our staff and all the fans of our big cats are mourning the loss of all three of these magnificent individuals. The animal care and veterinary teams have done a tremendous job caring for our aging animals and those with chronic disease. We were all aware that this day would come, but it does not make it any easier,” said Dr. Sue Tygielski, Director of Zoological Operations.

Sita has served as an important ambassador for Malayan tigers, a critically endangered species. It is estimated there are fewer than 350 Malayan tigers in the wild. Reid Park Zoo is committed to raising awareness of the challenges and threats to tigers in the wild, and inspiring individuals to take action to aid the survival of this species. You can pay tribute to Sita and her species by supporting companies that use sustainably harvested palm oil, thereby preserving important tiger habitat.