A female Sumatran tiger at a Washington state zoo died as a result of injuries she suffered from a male she was paired with in a breeding program intended to boost the endangered feline’s numbers.
Zookeepers at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma confirmed that six-year-old Kirana died on Monday morning ‘after experiencing severe injuries during a breeding introduction.’
The zoo was attempting to arrange a mating between Raja, a two-year-old male, and Kirana, which led to her ‘life-threatening injuries.’
‘When tigers breed, it’s natural for them to spar with each other and there is typically some level of aggression,’ curator Karen Goodrowe said in the statement.
‘This level of aggression [from Raja] was far beyond what we would expect with tiger introductions.’
Head veterinarian Karen Wolf said a necropsy confirmed substantial trauma from Kirana’s injuries, as well as a bacterial infection.
Sumatran tigers are considered critically endangerfed, with only 400 estimated in the wild and another 250 in captivity around the world.
Point Defiance has introduced four Sumatran tiger pairs since 2010 with no deaths or serious injury, according to Goodrowe.
‘We’re devastated by the loss of a very special tiger and by the loss to the tiger population as a whole,’ she added.
Kirana, a six-year-old female, died on Monday morning ‘after experiencing severe injuries’ during a breeding introduction at Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, Washington
Zookeepers slowly set the pair up over months with ‘the utmost care,’ according to the statement.
Kirana and Raja were first moved near each other ‘so they had visual and smell access while still being physically separated by a mesh door.’
The team looked for fence-rubbing and other positive signs that they were attracted to and comfortable with each other.
When they saw Kirana in distress, handlers quickly distracted Raja and separated the pair.
The veterinary and animal care teams immediately addressed Kirana’s life-threatening injuries, ‘providing supportive care and closely monitoring her around-the-clock over the weekend,’ the zoo said.
Even though Kirana’s health improved on Sunday, she passed away Monday morning.
‘She was improving bit by bit and we were cautiously optimistic that she would pull through,’ said Wolf.
Kirana suffered ‘life-threatening injuries’ after being introduced to potential mate Raja by zookeepers in an attempt to boost the endangered tiger’s numbers
Kirana (left) and her sibling Dari and Indah were born at the zoo to 11-year-old mom Jaya in December 2014
Point Defiance Zoo director Alan Varsik called Kirana’s death ‘a tragedy for our zoo family, our community and our world.’
‘With just a few Sumatran tigers left on this earth, we need to do everything we possibly can to help them survive.’
In addition to Raja, there are three other Sumatran tigers still living in Point Defiance’s Asian Forest Sanctuary: Bandar and Kali, both age 8, and Kirana’s littermate Indah.
Along with their sibling Dari, Indah and Kirana were part of a pair of triplets born to 11-year-old mom Jaya in December 2014.
Dari was eventually moved to the Phoenix Zoo in 2018.
Even though Kirana’s health improved on Sunday, she passed away. A necropsy report announced today confirmed substantial trauma from her injuries as well as a bacterial infection
The cub’s mother, Jaya, was euthanized in 2016 after her liver and gastrointestinal tract began to fail as a result of an aggressive bacterial infection
Jaya, who came to Point Defiance as a cub herself, ultimately gave birth to four litters.
She was euthanized in 2016 after her liver and gastrointestinal tract began to fail as a result of an aggressive bacterial infection.
‘Jaya was one of the most beautiful cats I have ever known,’ Goodrowe said in a statement at the time.
‘She embodied all of the best characteristics of her species and inspired me and all who cared for her to work tirelessly for the conservation of tigers in the wild.’
In August, two Sumatran tigers at Ragunan Zoo in Jakarta contracted COVD-19, but eventually recovered.
It’s estimated there are fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers in in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Fund. This rare but beautiful subspecies is recognizable for its distinctive heavy black stripes on their orange coats.
It’s estimated there are fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers in in the wild and another 250 in zoos around the world
Making its home on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, it is the last tiger native to the Sunda Islands — comprised of Brunei, East Timor, Indonesia, and Malaysia— with both the Bali and Javan tigers both hunted to extinction
Due to deforestation, poaching, and human-wildlife conflict, Sumatran tigers are listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Anyone caught hunting them can face jail time and steep fines, according to the WWF.