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Jaya, a 13-year-old Sumatran tiger, dies at Point Defiance Zoo

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Jaya the tiger is critically ill, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium says (Photo: Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium)

Jaya the tiger is critically ill, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium says
(Photo: Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium)

TACOMA — Jaya, a 13-year-old female Sumatran tiger, who came to Tacoma as a cub and gave birth to her own four litters of cubs, died Thursday afternoon at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, the zoo announced.

Jaya had been in critical condition since Tuesday. When her condition further worsened Thursday afternoon, zoo veterinarians, led by head veterinarian Dr. Karen Wolf, made the decision to humanely euthanize her.

“Jaya’s liver and gastrointestinal tract weren’t functioning correctly and she was battling an aggressive bacterial infection,” said Wolf.  “We did everything we could to treat her, but it wasn’t enough and her bodily functions all began to fail.”

“Jaya was one of the most beautiful cats I have ever known,” said Karen Goodrowe Beck, the zoo’s general curator. “She embodied all of the best characteristics of her species and inspired me and all who cared for her to work tirelessly for the conservation of tigers in the wild,” said Goodrowe Beck.

Jaya first showed signs of illness last week and underwent anesthesia, when the zoo veterinary team learned of the disease in her liver. Her liver and gastrointestinal tract were inflamed and she stopped eating on Monday. A further examination revealed an aggressive bacterial infection.

On Tuesday, she was placed in a medically-induced state of immobilization and a team of veterinary and other zoological staff members administered medications, fluids and nutrients around the clock.

Veterinarians planned to do a full necropsy on Jaya Thursday evening.

Today, the zoo is home to six Sumatran tigers, including Jaya’s most recent litter of triplets – Kirana, Indah, and Dari – born in 2014.

Only about 300 tigers remain in the wild on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. There are about 70 in North American zoos.