El Paso Zoo tiger, Belahat, dies at 18

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The El Paso Zoo announced the passing of 18-year-old Malayan tiger Belahat Thursday afternoon after a battle with kidney disease.

According to zoo officials, Belahat had been eating on his favorite foods and recently appeared to be losing weight. He was moved to the Zoo’s Animal Medical Center on Wednesday for diagnostics where the animal care team determined that his kidneys were in critical condition.

In an attempt to keep him hydrated, the veterinary staff gave him IV and subcutaneous fluids in order to provide some relief to his kidneys. They had hoped to try additional medications this week to continue managing the kidney disease, but unfortunately he passed away Thursday  morning.

Belahat was approximately 18-years-old and was initially diagnosed with kidney disease two years ago. At the time, he was diagnosed with a kidney and bladder infection which were making his kidneys worse, but he responded well to antibiotics and follow-up exams.

“We knew it was a likely outcome given his age, but it’s still sad when we have an animal with an illness that can’t be reversed,” said Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Victoria Miline. “We thought we could provide him a bit more time so we are all really sad, but we’re glad we were able to make him comfortable in his final moments.”

Belahat arrived at the El Paso Zoo from the Bronx zoo in 2012 through the Species Survival Plan by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. He was born in the rainforests of Malaysia where he reportedly came into conflict with humans and was rescued by a zoo before he came to the U.S.

Over his lifetime, Belahat sired four male and three female cubs. There are two remaining Malayan tigers at the El Paso Zoo, Seri and Melor. 

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