SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) – Utah’s Hogle Zoo announced the death of its 14-year-old Amur tiger, Kazek.
Zookeepers noted Kazek had not been “quite himself” for the past couple of days. They say on Thursday his condition began to deteriorate rapidly.
“He was a great cat,” said lead keeper, Stephanie Natt. “He would chuff at us to say good morning, every morning. He liked participating in his own care, eager to train and was very responsive. We’re really going to miss him.”
The initial animal autopsy findings showed Kazek had an inflamed gastrointestinal tract and a mass growing on his duodenum. Kazek had battled inflammatory bowel disease since he was diagnosed in 2008.
Kazek remained on a special diet to manage his IBD and in 2008 he bred with Basha, producing three male cubs. Those cubs, sent to other zoos for breeding, will keep his legacy alive.
Kazek came to Hogle Zoo from Buffalo Zoo in 2006 with the opening of the Asian Highlands exhibit.
He was the highlight for many guests, especially during the winter months or on summer morning visits when guests caught him in the water.
Amur tigers are from far eastern Russia and northeast China. Amur tigers are the largest of the tiger species and are critically endangered with some estimates at only 400 left in the wild.