August 11, 2000 CZAR LOSES BATTLE WITH CANCER
Czar, the Siberian tiger at the Oregon
Zoo, was euthanized August 10, ten
months after being diagnosed with cancer.
Czar was first diagnosed with oral melanoma in early
October 1999 and
underwent a series of radiation treatments to slow the
growth of the
tumor. Oral melanomas had not been reported in tigers.
domestic dogs and cats they are very aggressive tumors
quickly and do not respond well to chemotherapy. The
goal of the
radiation therapy was not to cure Czar, but to slow the
growth of the
tumor, allowing him a longer, pain free life. Zoo
found that tumor had recurred next to his upper canine
tooth and had
spread via lymphatic vessels to the roof of his
Czar's attitude and appetite had been in a very slow
decline over the
past several months, according to zoo veterinarians.
been waxing and waning, but there has been a downward
trend to the
cycles," says veterinarian Lisa Harrington. "It seems
attitude had diminished more acutely over the past 10
days or so."
Keepers reported that it was more and more difficult to
get Czar to eat.
For the last few days they warmed small amounts of meat
and pushed them
into his mouth. Keepers commented that he seemed to only
be taking the
food to please them, and between bites would rub his
mouth with his paw
and "rachet" his jaw from side to side.
Czar came to the Oregon
zoo in 1989 as a 5-year-old. He was hand raised
with a Labrador retriever and keepers think he picked-up
a lot of
personality traits from the dog. Veterinarian Mitch
Finnegan called him
"an easy going, affectionate cat with a very engaging
Zoo Director Tony Vecchio said, "Czar was an ambassador
for his species.
During the years he lived here, he did his job of
inspiring many people
to care about the plight of wild tigers and other
"Over the last 10 months, the public outpouring of
sympathy and concern
for Czar has been remarkable. Many get-well cards were
sent from children
around the region," Vecchio said.
Two new Siberian tigers will be coming to the zoo from
Zoological Garden in Grand Rapids, Michigan, although a
date has not been
set for their arrival. They are siblings, born in
Siberian tigers are one of the world's most endangered
than 400 wild tigers are thought to exist in their
in the Russian Far East.
The zoo plans a simple memorial for Czar this weekend.
Visitors will have
the opportunity to take part in an ancient Asian
tradition of writing
messages on strips of paper attached to little bells.
The messages will
then be tied in a tree in "Tiger Terrace" at the zoo.
Message strips will
be available for anyone who wants to participate all
weekend and through