Pandu, one of the Houston Zoo’s two elderly Malayan tigers, was humanely euthanized today after a long life. The decision was made by the tiger’s keepers and veterinary team after the 16-year-old tiger began to become uninterested in food, lethargic, and showing signs of pain. After an extensive medical review, our veterinary and tiger experts decided that the most humane option was to peacefully euthanize him.
For many years, Pandu received a combination of stem cell therapy and arthroscopic surgery to address orthopedic issues in his right elbow courtesy of Dr. Brian Beale of Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists and Michael Coleman, Ph. D. and Jonathan Davis, stem cell specialists with InGeneron, Inc. These treatments greatly added to his quality of life, and gave him the energy to participate in some of his favorite activities – swimming and painting.
Affectionately called “Professor” by his keepers, Pandu was an extremely vocal cat, so much that the team had to train him to be quite while they were feeding him so that they could hear one another talk. Also one of the zoo’s most requested painters, Pandu had a preference for purple paint and his work can be found hanging in homes around Houston. Pandu was also a frequent participant in the popular tiger training window enrichment exercises.
“It is never an easy decision to euthanize an animal, but it is one we make with the animal’s well-being as the top priority,” said Sharon Joseph, vice president of animal operations at the Houston Zoo. “With four incredible veterinarians, a complete veterinary clinic and world-class animal keepers, our animals receive the best care possible, and that includes end-of-life decisions. While it’s always exciting to celebrate births at the zoo, we also mourn heavily when one of our animals dies.”
Malayan tigers are critically endangered with only about 300 remaining in the wild. Pandu is survived by his habitat mate, a 14-year-old female Malayan tiger named Satu.