Hamilton Zoo’s dearly loved Sumatran tiger, Mencari, has passed away at the grand old age of 23.
As the oldest Sumatran tiger in current records, and one of the oldest residents at the Zoo, Dr Baird Fleming, Zoo Director said Mencari will be greatly missed.
“She was a special soul and a favourite amongst her keepers, who are feeling the loss deeply,” said Dr Fleming.
“While the passing of one of our animal whaanau is always tough, our main priority for all animals in our care is to ensure they do not suffer.”
Sumatran tigers have a life expectancy of 15 years in the wild. Dr Fleming said Mencari had remained active and in great condition until very recently.
Dr Fleming says that during the keepers’ recent daily interactions with Mencari, they noticed a decline in her general wellbeing and that she wasn’t her usual “sassy” self. The vet team was called in, and after close monitoring and assessments over the last few days, the difficult decision was made to euthanize her, he said.
“Caring for her has been an absolute privilege,” said Carnivore Team Leader at the Zoo, Shane Fox.
“While we are definitely feeling the loss of Mencari, we take comfort that we were able to step in and ensure she did not suffer.”
Born at Wellington Zoo, Mencari moved to Hamilton Zoo at 14 months old, with her siblings Jaka and Molek. They were the first tigers to call Hamilton Zoo home and came as part of the Australasian breeding programme for the critically endangered Sumatran tiger.
Hamilton Zoo curator, Mark Turner worked at Wellington Zoo when Mencari, Jaka and Molek were born and was part of the team who transferred the tigers to Hamilton.
“I brought them up here, settled them into their brand-new enclosure and that was the last I saw of them,” Mr Turner said.
“So, when I started working here in 2020, I was pretty surprised to see Mencari alive and so sprightly and healthy at such a golden age.
“It’s been an incredible experience to work with her again. She’s a special girl and our carnivore keepers who have worked with her every day, will really miss her. I know many of our visitors will too.”
Sumatran tigers are critically endangered with less than 400 remaining in the wild on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
Female tigers, Sali and her daughter, Kirana, remain at Hamilton Zoo.