A rare animal has died at Iowa’s largest zoo. Kavacha was a Siberian tiger at the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines. It died of heart failure Tuesday after a brief colon issue.
Zoo spokesman Ryan Bickle says the black-and-white striped tiger became a symbol of the rare species and its passing draws attention to possible extinction. “Siberian tigers in zoos are ambassadors for their species in the wild,” Bickle says. “They try to communicate the message that they are very rare and that humans need to work to save them in the wild.” It’s believed there are only about 350 Amur tigers left in the wild, with about 600 in captivity.
This big cat was 15-years-old, just one year shy of the average life expectancy for these tigers. “Everyone that came to the zoo is going to miss him because he had such a great personality,” he says. “You knew he was just an awesome animal. I think for many people that was a great experience and they were touched by that and I think that’s what people will miss most by him.” Kavacha didn’t produce any offspring. The zoo is working with the Species Survival Program to get another male tiger placed in Des Moines with its remaining female tiger.