Oldest tiger at Detroit Zoo dies at age 18

Kisa the tiger at Detroit Zoo. (Photo by Roy Lewis/Detroit Zoo)

The oldest tiger at the Detroit Zoo has passed away.

The Detroit Zoo says its 18-year-old tiger, Kisa, passed on Thursday during a veterinary procedure meant to manage Kisa’s arthritis symptoms and improve her quality of life.

Here’s more from the zoo:

We are heartbroken to announce the passing of Kisa, a beloved Amur tiger.

Born Aug. 12, 2003, at the Detroit Zoo, Kisa was the oldest tiger in the Devereux Tiger Forest, a habitat she shared with Nikolai and Ameliya. She loved taking long walks through her home — especially if there was snow on the ground.

Associate Curator of Mammals Betsie Meister describes Kisa as an individual who followed her own set of rules. Despite being known for her spirited attitude, she was mild-mannered with animal care staff and has always been a favorite among those who worked with her for nearly two decades.

At almost 19 years old, Kisa was considered elderly for an Amur tiger, whose life expectancy is 10-15 years in the wild. For years, animal care and veterinary staff members have been monitoring and treating Kisa’s age-related ailments, and she was on three different medications to help keep her comfortable in her later years. She passed today during a veterinary procedure meant to manage Kisa’s arthritis symptoms and improve her quality of life.

Her absence leaves a hole in our hearts, and she will be missed by staff and guests alike.

More: Detroit Zoo’s giant anteater, oldest of its kind, dies at 26


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Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.