BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - BREC's Baton Rouge Zoo is mourning the loss of a Malayan tiger named Hadiah. The young tiger is the latest in a number of animals who have died at the zoo recently.
Hadiah, which means "the gift" in Malay, was the name chosen for the tiger when she was born two years ago, but that gift was ripped from the zoo when the animal died suddenly Wednesday evening.
Sam Winslow, general curator with the zoo, said the loss will be felt by many.
"How often do you get to work with tigers you know, and this is one of the most charismatic animals we have in our zoo so it certainly is going to touch a lot of people, the staff and the visitors," he said.
On a mobile device? Click the link to see the slideshow of the two Malayan tigers when they were cubs in November 2014 - http://bit.ly/1NelYLk
The zoo released video to WAFB Friday afternoon which shows the young tiger just two days before she died. Staff members said there was no evidence of a problem and her death was unexpected.
"When she laid down she seemed to have some abdominal distress, something she was really getting uncomfortable with and you know passed away seems like within 20 minutes," Winslow added.
Hadiah is the most recent in a series of animal death at the zoo. Two giraffes died on March 19 and a newborn golden lion tamarin died days before that on March 14. This latest death marks the fourth animal to die at the facility in about a month.
While the cause of death for Hadiah has not yet been determined, staff say they are doing whatever they can to find answers. The zoo has even called on two federal organizations, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), to conduct inspections.
"When something goes wrong you always question yourself. So we're bringing in the AZA as well as the USDA to take a look at our procedure and our animal health and that sort of thing to verify or to give us criticism, whichever comes," Winslow added.
The BREC Commission has yet to reach a decision on whether to move the zoo from its current location to a more modern and update venue, but the unexpected deaths are raising questions about how suitable the Thomas Road facility is for its residents.
"Location would have nothing to do with it," Winslow said. "It's not going to change what we do with our animal and the quality of care we try and provide to them so that's really an unrelated issue to why these animals passed away."
Staff at the zoo said they are doing everything possible to investigate these deaths and hope to maintain the public's trust in their day-to-day operations.
Officials hope for the final results of what caused Hadiah's death in the next few weeks. A necropsy was performed by the Louisiana Animal Diagnostic Laboratory at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine.