Photo courtesy El Paso Zoo
Monday afternoon, officials at the El Paso Zoo announced the death of 24-year-old female Malayan Tiger “Melor” who died in her exhibit.
“We are devastated and extremely heartbroken by the death of Melor who was a special member of our zoo family,” said El Paso Zoo Director Joe Montisano. “Although she was a very old, she was a magnificent tiger that represented a critically endangered species. She was loved by staff and many zoo visitors. She will be dearly missed.”
At approximately 10 a.m., zoo staff found her dead in the moat of her exhibit. The cause of her death is not yet known but early indications show she likely died of old age.
The zoo will be conducting a complete necropsy to find the exact cause of her death, but her health had been declining over the last few years.
Malayan Tigers median life expectancy is approximately 16 years, but Melor exceeded that because of the excellent care given to her by zoo staff. She was a staff favorite and would greet the staff each morning with her signature growl followed up by chuffing.
Chuffing is a noise that tigers make when they are happy similar to a cats purr. Melor was very playful and enjoyed a daily swim in her pool.
Melor was born at the Singapore Zoological Gardens in 1996. She was brought to the United States to be part of a breeding program by the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens. Melor never had cubs and was transferred to the El Paso Zoo in 2001 from Fresno Chaffee Zoo to be a companion to the zoo’s other Malayan Tiger.
She was a favorite of many guests and served as a great ambassador to her species and the zoo.
The zoo has one remaining Malayan Tiger, Seri who is 12 years old. Despite being prolific breeders, Malayan Tigers are still extremely endangered in the wild and are disappearing rapidly.
The zoo will now contact the Malayan Tiger Species Survival Program, part of the American Zoological Association, and inquire about a companion for her or possibly a breeding partner, if so recommended.