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Auckland Zoo tiger Nisha dies

Auckland Zoo tiger Nisha dies

One of Auckland Zoo’s most loved animals, Sumatran tiger Nisha, has died suddenly.

“Staff are shattered by the loss of the nine-year-old female,” says Auckland Zoo Director, Glen Holland.

“This has been particularly tragic in light of Auckland Zoo’s plans to further the captive breeding programme through the import of a long-waited suitable male for Nisha.”

While Nisha has been unwell for the past month, blood tests and x-rays showed nothing out of the ordinary, and she has been treated with antibiotics for a cough and an eye problem.

Her appetite has been monitored on a daily basis for the past month and staff have done all they could to ensure she ate sufficient to maintain body condition.

It was planned to anaesthetise her in the next day, and local feline experts were to examine her, in collaboration with Auckland Zoo vets.

Yesterday morning, zookeepers arrived to find Nisha lying in her den, semi-conscious. She was immediately taken under veterinary supervision, and worked on through most of the morning. External checks and further x-rays still did not reveal any abnormalities but by midday, Nisha took a turn for the worse and passed away.

Post-mortem examinations reveal that Nisha had a massive stroke, and was also riddled with small growths throughout her lungs and liver. These are suspected to be cancerous. Test results are expected within the next two weeks.

Although this is a huge loss, the zoo’s commitment to the breeding programme and support of field conservation projects for tigers remains.

“We are pursuing the import of young male Oz from Tel Aviv, who will arrive in September. We will also soon be receiving a younger female directly related to Nisha, from Hamilton Zoo, for this critically important breeding programme,” says Mr Holland.

“This is a great example of how zoos collaborate to achieve the best possible outcome for endangered species’ captive breeding programmes.”

There are fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild and less than 200 in captivity. Predictions are that without significant conservation efforts their habitat could be gone by 2020.

Nisha is not only dearly loved by Auckland Zoo staff, but has become an icon in the wider community, particularly through THE ZOO television programme.

“Realising she will be sadly missed, if members of the community wish to pay tribute to Nisha, the best thing people can do is to support our Tiger Time campaign by phoning 0900 TIGER to make a $25 donation,” says Mr Holland.
Contributions can also be sent directly to the zoo.

The Auckland Zoo Tiger Time campaign is aiming to raise $1 million to support the captive breeding programme for the Sumatran tiger and conservation initiatives in Sumatra.


Auckland Zoo is home to the largest collection of native and exotic wildlife species in New Zealand (over 1900 animals and 200 species) and attracts over half a million visitors annually. It is becoming increasingly well known nationally and internationally through the award-winning television programme, 'The Zoo'.

At the heart of all Auckland Zoo's work and activities is its MISSION: "to focus the Zoo’s resources to benefit conservation and provide exciting visitor experiences which inspire and empower people to take positive action for wildlife and the environment".

Auckland Zoo’s Charitable Trust is currently fundraising for the establishment of a New Zealand Centre for Conservation Medicine, to be built at the Zoo in 2006. Auckland Zoo is a member of both the Australasian Regional Association of Zoological Parks & Aquaria (ARAZPA) and the World Association of Zoos & Aquariums (WAZA).


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