Phoenix Zoo’s Sumatran tiger, Jai, euthanized due to chronic kidney disease

Feb 2, 2022, 3:00 PM | Updated: 10:30 pm

(Phoenix Zoo Photos)...

(Phoenix Zoo Photos)

(Phoenix Zoo Photos)

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Zoo has said goodbye to its 17-year-old Sumatran tiger Jai, who was euthanized after suffering from chronic kidney disease.

The Zoo announced the tiger’s death on Wednesday, saying in a press release that veterinarians had been aware of elevated renal values from previous exams but that Jai had recently become clinically affected by the disease.

“We made the difficult decision as an animal care team when we felt his quality of life was severely impacted,” Dr. Gary West, senior vice president of animal health and living collections, said in the release.

“Ultimately, because it requires anesthesia to give him supportive care and fluid therapy, we decided that we would not continue to do that. The team decided that when his appetite greatly decreased, and his activity level declined we would proceed with euthanasia.”

The zoo said chronic kidney disease is common in domestic and non-domestic cat species, with a 2018 study in Australian zoos showing the tiger breed had the highest percentage of deaths related to the disease among various species of cats in zoos.

The zoo said the median life expectancy for Sumatran tigers is 18.4 years of age.

“Jai has been a staff and guest favorite since his arrival to the Zoo in 2005,” Kara Schilling, curator of mammals for the Phoenix Zoo, said in the release.

“He has been a tremendous ambassador for his wild counterparts and our team has enjoyed every minute we’ve had the pleasure of caring for him.”

Schilling added the zoo will miss Jai’s roars to greet carnivore keeper staff in the morning and his displeasure over the perceived wait for his keepers to get his diet ready.

“He was a very vocal cat who always made his viewpoints known. He will be greatly missed.”

Jai was born at the Louisville Zoo before coming to Phoenix.

The zoo also has a female Sumatran tiger, Joanne, who came from the San Diego Safari Park in June.

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Phoenix Zoo’s Sumatran tiger, Jai, euthanized due to chronic kidney disease