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Idaho Falls Zoo mourns the death of elderly tiger

Idaho Falls

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The following is a news release from the Idaho Falls Zoo.

IDAHO FALLS — It is with a heavy heart that Idaho Falls Zoo shares the sad news of the passing of our beloved Amur tiger, Basha. At 18 years old, she was the oldest living tiger at any Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited zoo. She passed due to complications associated with old age on April 6. The average life span for females of her species is 14.3 years.

With her advancing age, veterinary and animal care staff had been closely monitoring and evaluating Basha’s health over several years.

In recent months, she experienced a significant decline in her health that dramatically accelerated over the last few weeks. When her condition advanced to the point that medical treatment no longer kept her comfortable and pain-free, animal care and veterinary teams jointly decided that euthanasia was the most humane option.

Basha was a favorite of zoo guests. She liked pushing her ball around and chasing it down the hill of her exhibit. Chasing wild ducks that dared come into her yard, laying under her favorite lilac bush, and watching everybody from atop her hill were also favorite pastimes.

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“I will miss Basha’s unique charm and independent personality,” says Katie Barry, carnivore keeper and Basha’s lead caregiver. “After years of caring for a magnificent animal like Basha, you form a special bond. In the afternoons, I would take some time and visit Basha who would come to the side of her enclosure to spend time with me. When I would need to leave, she would show her disapproval in ending our time with a rather loud growl.”

Born at Utah’s Hogle Zoo on February 16, 2003, Basha came to the Idaho Falls Zoo May 15, 2012, by recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) for Amur tigers. SSPs are cooperative population management programs that help ensure the survival of selected species, most of which are threatened or endangered. The Amur tiger is a critically endangered species. The main goal of SSPs is to maintain healthy and genetically diverse populations.

Staff are currently working with the SSP to bring a new Amur tiger to the Idaho Falls Zoo in a way that best ensures the future of this amazing species.

Basha was a treasured member of the IF Zoo family and will be remembered fondly.

Idaho Falls Zoo will be open daily (including holidays) from 9:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. for the 2021 season starting Saturday, April 10.

Stay informed on the fun at the zoo: follow the Idaho Falls Zoo on Facebook, Instagram, Google, and YouTube; subscribe to zoo notices under Notify Me on the city’s website, www.idahofallsidaho.gov, and visit the zoo at www.idahofallszoo.org.

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