Rare Siberian tiger dies of cancer

A RARE Siberian tiger that hit the headlines by giving birth to cubs has died of cancer.Staff at Banham Zoo thought four-year-old Zaliv had become pregnant again but their hopes turned to sadness when a tumour was discovered in her abdomen.

A RARE Siberian tiger that hit the headlines by giving birth to cubs has died of cancer.

Staff at Banham Zoo thought four-year-old Zaliv had become pregnant again but their hopes turned to sadness when a tumour was discovered in her abdomen.

Zaliv was thrust into the spotlight when her cubs, Chali and Zascha, were born five months ago as part of a European captive breeding programme for the endangered species.

The young males, who were the only two Siberian cubs born in captivity in Britain last year, were seen as the biggest achievement in Banham's 34-year history.


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On Monday, staff at the zoo, near Diss, became concerned that mother Zaliv was unwell and experiencing a difficult second delivery.

During an emergency Caesarean operation, the zoo vet discovered that Zaliv was not pregnant but that her abdomen contained a large tumour, which had spread to most of her major organs.

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Gary Batters, zoo animal manager, said the decision to put Zaliv down was made with her best interests in mind.

He said: "This is a desperately sad situation for all the staff at the zoo and, in particular, the keeping staff who had formed a strong bond with Zaliv.

"I'm sure many of our regular visitors will also feel this great loss and will share our sorrow."

There are only about 400 of the animals, also known as Amur tigers from a river which runs through their habitat, left in the wild and it is programmes like the one at Banham that are helping to secure their future.

Mr Batters said he hoped a future mate could be found for Mischa, the father of Chali and Zascha.

Earlier this year Banham zoo joined forces with almost 300 zoos across Europe to launch the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) Tiger Campaign 2003.

The campaign aims to raise awareness of the threats to tigers in the wild and of the role zoos play in conservation.

It will raise funds for organising projects in areas where tigers still range.

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