Paignton Zoo's last Sumatran tiger dies days before reopening

Image source, Paignton Zoo
Image caption,
Shakira was put down after being ill for some time, Paignton Zoo said

The last tiger at a zoo has died days before reopening after lockdown.

At 18 years old, Shakira was "very elderly" for a big cat and had been on medication for a few weeks while her health deteriorated, Paignton Zoo said.

She was a critically endangered Sumatran tiger, with fewer than 400 thought to be left in the wild.

The announcement comes a day before the zoo was planning to reopen to the public on Thursday.

Zookeepers decided putting Shakira down was the "kindest" option, despite it being a difficult choice.

Image source, Paignton Zoo
Image caption,
The zoo said Shakira will be "greatly missed"

She arrived in Devon in 2014 from Berlin as part of a breeding programme.

Paignton Zoo said: "As she was hand-reared, Shakira was a very lively, people-orientated tiger and was easy to spot with her wide-eyed, beautiful face. She will be greatly missed."

Her death leaves the zoo without any remaining Sumatran tigers, after a male was sent to Edinburgh Zoo to be part of a breeding programme in November.

Paignton Zoo revealed it will continue to be home to the species, with two young females expected to arrive in the future.

The species is native to forests in the Indonesian island of Sumatra and is the smallest of all tigers.

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