Beloved Audubon Zoo white tiger ‘King Zulu’ dies

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Photo courtesy Audubon Nature Institute

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – King Zulu, the 20-year-old male white tiger at Audubon Zoo, has died.

Audubon Nature Institute announced his death Sunday. They said he experienced a steep decline in health and the difficult decision was made by animal care staff and veterinarians to humanely euthanize the tiger Sunday morning.

King Zulu had been receiving hospice-style treatment to help maintain his quality of life.

Born at the Nashville Zoo in 1996, the beloved tiger had been part of the Audubon family since 1999. Bengal tigers in the wild live for approximately 10 to 15 years while tigers in human care usually live between 16 to 20 years.

“King Zulu was a personable cat and really loved interacting with staff and guests alike – his caretakers were all very close to him,” said Joe Forys, Audubon Zoo’s Curator of Large Mammals. “He greeted everyone with a chuff (tiger purr) every time he saw you and we will never forget him.”

Forys added, “He loved spending time in his habitat. In his younger years, he loved swimming in the moat, especially in the summer. He loved to try and tackle the giant ‘boomer’ ball in the water and everyone enjoyed seeing him splashing around. He was a wonderful ambassador for tigers everywhere.”