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Banham Zoo announces death of 'much-loved' tiger

Keepers at Banham Zoo have said they are heartbroken at the death of the much loved female Amur tiger Sveta, which happened yesterday.

The 11-year-old tiger died during a routine contraceptive implant operation and while under anesthetic.

Following a post mortem it is thought that the cause of her death may have been due to a heart defect.

Sveta was part of a European breeding programme for Amur tigers. Picture:Ian Read (37266409)
Sveta was part of a European breeding programme for Amur tigers. Picture:Ian Read (37266409)

Gary Batters, Joint Managing Director, Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA), said: “Sveta was a beautiful and much loved part of our zoo community and her sudden death is heartbreaking for the keepers who’ve worked tirelessly during Covid-19 to care for all our animals. She will be greatly missed.”

The ZSEA, the charity which runs Banham Zoo in Norfolk and Africa Alive in Suffolk, is a partner in the European breeding programme for the Amur tiger (also known as the Siberian tiger) which is the largest of all the big cats.

Sveta had given birth to two cubs in 2013, which were fathered by her Amur tiger mate Kuzma.

Kuzma has been on a period of loan to Knowsley Safari Park near Liverpool since August 2019 as part of the European Breeding Programme and is due to return to Banham Zoo on Sunday.

Mr Batters added: “It is especially sad that Sveta’s mate, Kuzma, when he returns, will not have the reunion with Sveta which we had all wished for.”

Amur tigers are one of nine subspecies of tiger, three of which are now extinct.

They are endangered due to habitat loss and hunting and it is thought there are currently around 250 adults in the wild.

Amur tigers live for 10 to 14 years in the wild. In captivity they can live up to 20 years although their average life expectancy is around 14 to 16 years.

Banham Zoo and Africa Alive are set to reopen to the public on Saturday, July 4, following their closure during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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