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Ljubljana Zoo mourns deaths of capybara and Siberian tiger

Ljubljana, 18 March - Two furry residents of Ljubljana Zoo, ten-year-old capybara Stinky and nine-year-old Siberian tiger Vito, have recently died from cancer, the zoo said on Thursday.

A Siberian tiger in Ljubljana Zoo.
Photo: Tamino Petelinšek/STA
File photo

Zagreb, Croatia
A capybara in Zagreb Zoo.
Photo: Hina/STA
File photo

It is likely that cases of cancer are more frequently encountered in zoo animals because they usually live longer than those in the wild, similar as with people whose lifespan has got longer, the zoo said in a press release.

In a ten-year period, deaths from cancer among animals at Ljubljana Zoo accounted for 4% of all deaths. The disease afflicted amphibians, birds and mammals, but at a significantly lower rate than among people where cancer is the second leading cause of death. Among Slovenian men, it is even the number one cause of death.

Vito first showed signs of feeling unwell in November. Due to a rare aggressive cancer he had to undergo a surgery during which his kidney and spleen were removed.

The vet team and staff's efforts did not stop the spread of the disease and the tiger had to be put to sleep.

Meanwhile, a rare type of a caecal tumour was too formidable an adversary for capybara Stinky as the caecum is a vital part of the animal's digestive tract.

"We know that visitors will miss them, but they will be missed even more by staff and their caretakers who saw them on a daily basis," said the zoo, noting that Vito had recognised from afar the sound of his caretakers approaching and hurried to greet them. Stinky, who had a penchant for cuddling and frolicking, had also bonded with his caretakers.

Both animals were ambassadors of their species in the zoo, having participated in numerous educational activities to raise awareness about threats to nature and the animal world, the release adds.

© STA, 2021