Yesterday we said a very difficult haere rā to our magnificent and much-loved female Sumatran tiger Molek.

Molek (Malay for beautiful) was born 10 January 2000 - close to 19 years old - making her a grand old dame who lived a long and full life.

As expected with any elderly animal, Molek had been showing signs of aging, but over the past couple of day’s keepers and vets saw sudden changes in her disposition, movement and appetite which indicated that something more serious was going on with her health.

Senior vet An Pas said that “Since initial treatment did not result in any improvement, we anesthetized her to perform a full close examination.

Taking in to consideration the results from this procedure, which showed declining age-related health issues, along with the rapid deterioration of her general demeanour, putting her to sleep was absolutely the right and kindest decision to make.”

Over the coming days the vet team will be performing a thorough post mortem to gain a full picture of what caused Molek’s rapid decline.

Molek will be greatly missed by all who knew her, but especially our carnivore team.

Team leader of carnivores Lauren Booth has been caring for Molek, since 2006. Lauren says that it is with some disbelief we’ve had to say goodbye to our “beautiful tigress”.

“She has left us with some exceptional memories from over the years which we will all cherish. One of my favourites is of the day we first found out she had given birth to three healthy cubs.”

One of Molek’s cubs, Berani, still lives at Auckland Zoo, but as Sumatran tigers are naturally solitary animals, the hope is that Berani will, over time, adapt to his new situation.

Our thoughts are with our staff and volunteers at this difficult time, especially our carnivore keepers and vet team who have cared for Molek closely throughout her life at Auckland Zoo. 


How our zoo vets and keepers care for our aging animals

Auckland Zoo senior vet Dr James Chatterton discusses our aging animals and the world class care we provide for them.

  1. Born at Wellington Zoo 10 January 2000, Molek lived at Hamilton Zoo from 2001 before coming to Auckland Zoo in 2006. 
  2. A great ambassador for her species, she made Auckland Zoo history in 2008 when she gave birth to its first three tiger cubs – Jalur, Berani and Cinta – with male tiger Oz, who now lives at Hamilton Zoo.
  3. As part of the Australasian breeding programme for this species, Jalur and Cinta moved to Symbio Wildlife Gardens in New South Wales, before being transferred to Tasmania Zoo.
  4. Auckland Zoo is part of the Australasian breeding programme for this species and supports tigers in Indonesia through our partnership with Conserve Wild Cats Alliance and the vital work they do in Kerinci Seblat National Park (KSNP) protecting Sumatra’s tiger population from active poaching threats.
  5. With less than 400 Sumatra tigers left in the wild, Auckland Zoo is committed to continuing to support this species through advocacy with its visitors and staff, as well as the Wild Work it does and supports.

Molek and Berani play with a GoPro

On Berani's eighth birthday, Berani and his mum Molek decided to have some fun with our GoPro.