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Aging El Paso Zoo tiger dies of kidney disease

One of the El Paso Zoo tigers has died two years after being diagnosed with kidney disease. (Courtesy: El Paso Zoo)

One of the El Paso Zoo tigers has died two years after being diagnosed with kidney disease.

Zoo officials said Belahat, an 18-year-old Malayan tiger, was in the final stages of kidney failure when he died Wednesday.

Recently Balahat had been eating only his favorite foods and appeared to be losing weight, zoo officials said. The animal care team confirmed through blood and urine tests that his kidneys were in critical condition due to his advanced age.

The tiger was given intravenous and subcutaneous fluids, and was kept hydrated, during the week to manage the disease.

He had been diagnosed with the kidney issues two years ago. Zoo officials said degenerative kidney disease is common an irreversible in older cats. Belahat had exceeded the life expectancy of Malayan tigers under human care.

“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 Dr. Victoria Milne, the zoo's veterinarian. “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 was a geriatric tiger, so we know what’s to be expected as we take great care in our animals and they get older — that’s our job,” zoo director Steve Marshall said. “But that doesn’t mean it makes this any easier. He was with us for five years, and in those short five years he became a member of our zoo family. It’s just a tough time for all of us at the zoo.”

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