NEW ORLEANS, LA (WAFB) - The beloved white tiger at the Audubon Zoo was humanely euthanized over the weekend.
According to officials, 20-year-old King Zulu has been in hospice-style treatment for an extended period of time. They say his health "experienced a steep decline," which prompted the decision to euthanize.
"King Zulu was a personable cat and really loved interacting with staff and guests alike - his caretakers were all very close to him," said Joe Forys,Audubon Zoo's Curator of Large Mammals. "He greeted everyone with a chuff (tiger purr) every time he saw you and we will never forget him."
The tiger was born in the Nashville Zoo in 1996 and was transferred to the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans in 1999.
At his age, King Zulu lived to the highest life expectancy for a tiger in captivity. Bengal tigers born in the wild have a life expectancy of approximately 10-15 years.
"He loved spending time in his habitat. In his younger years, he loved swimming in the moat, especially in the summer," Forys added. "He loved to try and tackle the giant 'boomer' ball in the water and everyone enjoyed seeing him splashing around. He was a wonderful ambassador for tigers everywhere."