Close to 18 years old, Jaka had been unwell over the past few weeks, with our vet team and his keepers concerned that despite an increased appetite, he was losing weight. A medical procedure last week revealed some abnormal blood levels but nothing conclusive. This morning, Veterinary Services Group vet radiologists joined Zoo vets to carry out an ultrasound of his abdomen, which revealed he had a large inoperable tumour in his intestine that had also spread throughout his body.
“There is no treatment for this, so euthanising Jaka was absolutely the kindest and only right thing to do,” says Auckland Zoo’s senior vet manager, Dr James Chatterton. “Jaka would not have been feeling too unwell at this stage, just a little more tired than usual. We all feel really privileged that we were able to step in and put him to sleep before he felt really unwell or was in any pain.”
Jaka, affectionately known as Auckland Zoo’s ‘Christmas tiger’ because of his huge love of spices such as nutmeg and clove, will be greatly missed by all Zoo staff, volunteers and visitors, but especially his incredibly dedicated Carnivore keepers who enhanced and enriched his life every day.
His keepers described Jaka as “a very relaxed tiger, who could be very vocal, extremely curious, loved enrichments, and was also very motivated by food.”
Carnivore team leader Lauren Booth says “we keepers all loved that he had very strong tiger behaviours, and a marvellous call that we liked to refer to as his singing voice when he was communicating with his sister Molek, who he would often call to.”
Jaka, who was born at Wellington Zoo in 2000 before moving to Hamilton Zoo in 2005, came to Auckland Zoo in 2013. Auckland Zoo has two other tigers, Jaka’s sister Molek and her son, nine-year-old Berani.