Louisville Zoo Says Goodbye to Amur Tiger “Etta”

CONTACT: Kyle Shepherd
502-238-5331 (Media Cell 502-744-5639)

The Louisville Zoo is saddened to say goodbye to 17-year-old Amur (Siberian) tiger Marietta —affectionately called “Etta.” The tiger was humanely euthanized yesterday afternoon.

“It is never easy to say goodbye to one of our animal ambassadors and Etta was precious to us as all of our ambassadors are,” said Louisville Zoo Director John Walczak. “Etta lived a good long life and was able to thrive longer because of the excellent care our staff provides. In the remnant wild, it is unlikely Etta would have reached this age under the best of circumstance. Amur tigers are facing poaching and habitat loss like so many other animals which makes every day of life an extreme challenge.”

Etta had rear end weakness caused by spinal disease which affected her mobility. Following a welfare assessment by animal and veterinary staff, the tiger was “retired” off exhibit in holding spaces within Islands where she could get closer attention and monitoring. “Etta’s physical and mental well-being was the highest priority and she was kept comfortable to the end with multimodal pain management,” said Associate Veterinarian Dr. Julie Ter Beest.

Marietta arrived in Louisville in 2008 from the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, Wisconsin. She was in rotation at Tiger Taiga with two other tigers —11-year-old male Vikentii and 8-year-old female Sasha.

The median life expectancy for Amur tigers is 14.3 years.

Amur tigers are listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. There are fewer than 130 in AZA-accredited zoos and less than 400 left in the wild. The main threats to the survival of the Amur tiger are poaching, habitat loss, and illegal hunting of their prey (deer and wild boar).

Amur tigers are the largest living felines and their range is the Amur River region in eastern Russia, northeastern China and into the Korean peninsula.

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The Louisville Zoo, a non-profit organization and state zoo of Kentucky, is dedicated to bettering the bond between people and our planet by providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for visitors, and leadership in scientific research and conservation education. The Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).