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Grand Rapids Zoo Makes Difficult Decision to Euthanize Ailing Amur Tiger

Grand Rapids Zoo Makes Difficult Decision to Euthanize Ailing Amur Tiger

An 18-year-old Amur tiger named Nika, housed at the John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was euthanized following a period of deteriorating health.
Nika, who had arthritis, had shown significant signs of aging and health decline in recent weeks, leading to this decision. Nika first arrived at the zoo and had been an important member of the ‘Tigers of the Realm’ habitat.

Born at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo, Nika later moved to the Potter Park Zoo in Lansing. During her time in Lansing, Nika birthed four cubs as part of a breeding program for the critically endangered Amur tigers, run by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

With only an estimated 350-450 of these tigers remaining in the wild, each birth contributes greatly to the species’ survival.

According to AZA-accredited institutions, female tigers typically live up to 14 years, thus making Nika’s 18-year lifespan an exception.

Zoo officials praised Nika’s role as an ambassador for her species and expressed their sorrow at her loss.  Nika had tested positive for COVID-19, but the article does not link this to her recent health decline.

Amur tigers, which are native to the far east of Russia and northeast China, are the largest cats in the world and one of the most endangered. Their survival is mainly threatened by poaching, habitat loss, and infectious diseases.

Would you like more information about Nika the tiger, or about Amur tigers in general?

Or perhaps you’re interested in hearing more about the work of the John Ball Zoo? Please provide a bit more context so I can best assist you.
The loss of Nika, the Amur tiger, is a significant event for the staff and visitors of John Ball Zoo. As one of the oldest tigers in AZA-accredited institutions, Nika provided a unique opportunity for people to learn about these majestic and endangered creatures.

Her life and presence were an important reminder of the fragile state of many wildlife populations and the ongoing need for conservation efforts.

Amur tigers, once referred to as Siberian tigers, are the largest cats in the world, with males weighing up to 675 pounds. Despite their power and size, these tigers are under severe threat due to human activities.

They predominantly live in the Sikhote-Alin mountain range and southwest Primorye Province in the Russian Far East, though small populations can be found in China and North Korea.

Conservation programs like the Amur Tiger Species Survival Plan breeding program, which Nika was a part of, are vital to preserving the species.

These programs not only work to increase the number of tigers through captive breeding but also aim to maintain genetic diversity among the population.

Beyond breeding programs, many zoos and conservation organizations also engage in educational outreach and fund initiatives aimed at combating poaching and habitat loss.

Through these combined efforts, it might be possible to halt, and hopefully reverse, the decline of these beautiful animals.

Nika, in her lifetime, contributed to these efforts, both through her participation in the breeding program and by helping to educate the public about her species.

Her loss is undoubtedly felt by those who cared for her at the zoo, but her impact will continue to be felt in the ongoing fight to protect the Amur tiger

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