Yesterday we said a very difficult goodbye to our beloved Sumatran tiger, Berani, who, after exhaustive efforts to treat him, had to be euthanased due to chronic illness.

Berani (Malay for brave) was born here at the Zoo in June 2008 with his siblings, sister Cinta and male Jalur, as part of an international breeding programme for this Critically Endangered big cat; they were the first tigers to be born at Auckland Zoo.

Our experienced animal and veterinary staff have been closely monitoring 11-year-old Berani’s health since he began exhibiting signs of discomfort and stress in early January for which he was treated.  Over the past three to four months, he began to show symptoms of a more serious illness - including loss of appetite, diarrhea, weight loss, and further changes to his behaviour.  Berani underwent two separate health checks under general anaesthetic with our vet team in May, which included an ultrasound and endoscopy. Some inflammation of Berani’s small intestine was discovered, but no diagnosis could be made.

Our vets and animal staff worked closely with an Internal Medicine specialist to give Berani the best possible treatment, including antibiotics, steroids, pain relief and behavioural drugs in order to maintain Berani’s quality of life. After early positive responses to treatment, Berani’s health and quality of life continued to decline despite the exhaustive efforts of our staff, resulting in the difficult and kindest decision to euthanase him.

“Initial post-mortem results have been inconclusive, however some of the treatments Berani received are likely to have masked some of the physical signs of disease.  All the symptoms point to an underlying clinical issue. It can be frustrating and upsetting, but sometimes we encounter disease that we can neither diagnose nor successfully treat. We hope that further analysis of his histology will reveal more,” says Auckland Zoo senior vet, Dr An Pas.

Team leader of carnivores Lauren Booth has been caring for Berani, since he was born at the Zoo in 2008. She describes him as a “very handsome tiger and a real sweetheart”.  She also says Berani was “uncomplicated, and a typical male – focused on where to have a good sleep and where dinner is!”

“It’s heartbreaking for us that Berani will not now get to experience the incredible new home being built for tigers at the Zoo, that was, to a great deal, designed with him in mind,” says Lauren.

“Berani was an amazing ambassador for his species and we know his legacy will live on in the many millions of people who were lucky enough to see and connect with him, while he shared his life with us here at Auckland Zoo.

“I hope our visitors will remember Berani the way we will - playing in his pool or lying upside down right next to the window. It’s moments like these that can move and inspire people to do something to ensure we never have to live in a world without tigers."

  1. Berani (11 years old) was the only Sumatran tiger at Auckland Zoo
  2. Typically, Sumatran tigers in the wild can live for 10-15 years in the wild and 16-20 years in zoos.
  3. Berani was one of three cubs born to first-time parents – mum Molek (who died in 2018 at the age of 19) and male Oz – who now lives at Hamilton Zoo – as part of zoos’ international breeding programme for this Critically Endangered big cat. Berani and his siblings, sister Cinta and brother Jalur, were the first tigers born at Auckland Zoo in 2008.
  4. Since Berani’s birth in June 2008 Auckland Zoo has welcomed approximately 8 million visitors and Auckland Zoo visitors have contributed more than $200,000 to help save Sumatran tigers in the wild.
  5. As part of zoos’ international breeding programme for this species, Jalur and Cinta moved to Symbio Wildlife Gardens in New South Wales in 2010, before being transferred to Tasmania Zoo in 2018. 
  6. With less than 400 Sumatran 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. 
  7. Auckland Zoo is part of the international breeding programme for this species and supports tiger conservation 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. In addition, the Zoo’s support of The Sumatran Ranger project is also helping to protect tigers in the wild in north Sumatra.
  8. As part of our long-term planning and zoos’ international breeding programme for Sumatran tigers, Auckland Zoo is to receive two young tigers for breeding within the coming year. They will be moving into an expansive brand new tiger habitat being created as part of the Zoo’s new South East Asia track, opening in 2020. This Sumatran tiger recommendation is part of the Global Species Management Programme (GSMP), which comes under the umbrella of the World Association of Zoos & Aquaria.