Louisville Zoo mourns 16-year-old tiger Heran after battle with blood cancer
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The Louisville Zoo is saying goodbye to a 16-year-old Sumatran tiger who died after a battle with blood cancer.
Heran, who arrived in Louisville back in 2017, suffered from B-cell lymphoma and leukemia. The decision was made on Feb. 7 to humanely euthanize the tiger, according to a news release.
The tiger was born in 2005 and originally came from the Illinois Miller Park Zoo. Heran was later diagnosed with glaucoma in his right eye, which the zoo surgically replaced with a silicone orbital implant.
Visitors grew to love Heran, who became popular for his permanent “winking” appearance due to his missing eye.
Heran came to the Louisville Zoo as a recommendation by the Sumatran Tiger Species Survival Plan to help continue the genetic subspecies of tiger. The Zoo said there are only about 75 Sumatran tigers, the smallest subspecies of tigers, in North American zoological parks.
While Heran did not sire any cubs, the SSP collected samples to help continue the tiger’s reproductive line in the future.
“The priority is to do right by the animal in providing compassionate end-of-life care,” Dr. Zoli Gyimesi, Senior Staff Veterinarian said in a release. “But if we can also do what is right for the population that Heran represented as an ambassador, that’s our responsibility as well. We hope that the samples we collected will let Heran sire cubs in the future.”
Samples were also collected to research cancers across zoo species along with stem cell therapy research for living tigers.
The Louisville Zoo posted a celebration video for Heran which can be viewed here.
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