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A tiger has died at Zoo Atlanta

Zoo Atlanta is in mourning after  Kavi, a 15-year-old male Sumatran tiger, died of old age. He was euthanized Thursday.

Born January 8, 2001, at Akron Zoo, Kavi moved to Zoo Atlanta in 2006, the Zoo said. He sired Sohni and Sanjiv, who were born to tiger Chelsea - shown in the video above - in 2011. At the recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Tiger Species Survival Plan), he moved to Smithsonian’s National Zoo, where he also fathered two cubs there in 2012. He returned to Zoo Atlanta in 2014.

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Kavi, considered geriatric at his age, had been receiving ongoing care for arthritis, and within the last several weeks, his condition declined precipitously. The Zoo's Animal Management and Veterinary Teams finally made the decision to euthanize Kavi when it was clear his quality of life had greatly diminished.

'Zoo Atlanta is saddened by the loss of Kavi, who was not only a special member of our family and a magnificent cat, but a representative of a critically endangered species,” Hayley Murphy, DVM, Vice President of Animal Divisions, said in a statement. “The fact that he lived such a long life is a great testament to the dedication and hard work of his care team, who shared a deep commitment to Kavi and to preserving his quality of life.”

Chelsea, 13, remains at Zoo Atlanta. Sohni and Sanjiv, now live at other AZA zoos. The species is solitary in the wild, with males and females coming together only briefly for breeding. 

"Kavi was an ambassador for one of the Zoo’s rarest mammal species," the Zoo said. "Sumatran tigers are classified as critically endangered, with fewer than 300 believed to remain in the wild. Poaching for traditional medicines and habitat loss and territory fragmentation, largely as a result of slash-and-burn deforestation for palm oil plantations, are the most imminent threats to the species, which is found only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra."

A necropsy, or the animal equivalent of an autopsy, will be performed through the Zoo’s partnership with the University of Georgia Zoo and Exotic Animal Pathology Service in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Results should be available in several weeks, the Zoo said.

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Jennifer Brett is a multiplatform journalist and digital coach. She writes The Buzz blog for