Minnesota Zoo Media Contact

If you are a member of the press, please contact: Zach Nugent
Communication and Media Specialist
Minnesota Zoo
13000 Zoo Boulevard
Apple Valley, MN 55124
952.431.9534 direct
952-250-7293 mobile
[email protected]

Apple Valley, MN – March 24, 2022 – It’s with heavy hearts that we share that on Wednesday, during a routine medical procedure, the Zoo’s 12-year-old male Amur tiger experienced cardiac failure. Despite heroic emergency efforts of veterinarians, animal health technicians, and zookeepers, he did not survive.

This is a profound loss. The Minnesota Zoo has a long history of tiger care and conservation. The first tigers arrived at the Zoo more than 40 years ago, and, since that time, the Zoo has birthed 44 tiger cubs and has been a globally recognized leader in tiger care, management, and conservation.

“Today is an incredibly hard day for all of us at the Minnesota Zoo and we will be mourning for quite some time,” said Minnesota Zoo Director John Frawley. “Our Zoo has played a key role in global tiger conservation throughout our history and we currently are co-leaders of the Tiger Conservation Campaign, which has raised millions of dollars for tiger conservation. While this loss is great, we can be proud of our efforts – past, present, and future – to advance tiger conservation worldwide.”

The tiger, who came to the Minnesota Zoo in 2015, was undergoing a preventative health exam that included the collection of samples to assist with breeding efforts at the recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Amur Tiger Species Survival Plan. Breeding and specimen collection are of critical importance to a globally threatened species, like the Amur tiger. There are approximately 103 Amur tigers in AZA accredited zoos in North America and believed to be less than 500 animals surviving in the wild.

Born in 2009 in the Czech Republic and given the name Putin, the tiger lived at the Denmark Zoo for six years before arriving in Minnesota. His genetically important legacy lives on as he has sired multiple cubs, including one born in 2017 at the Minnesota Zoo.

“This was a routine procedure that is a vital part of our care and conservation work for tigers,” said Dr. Taylor Yaw, the Minnesota Zoo’s Chief of Animal Care, Health and Conservation. “We plan weeks ahead for these types of exams. All necessary precautions were taken, and the team did everything within their power to save this animal. We’ll continue to learn more in the days and months ahead, and we are grateful for the support of the University of Minnesota’s pathology team for their expertise and support as a necropsy is conducted.”

We would like to extend a special thanks to the animal health and care teams at the Zoo for their commitment to our animals and to all those throughout the community who have supported the Zoo and our tiger conservation efforts for the past 43 years.

The Minnesota Zoo is a year-round destination providing a window into the natural world. With hundreds of species of animals, worldwide conservation efforts, and acres of scenic beauty, the Zoo is a resource to connect people, animals and the natural world to save wildlife. For more information visit mnzoo.org. The Minnesota Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and an institutional member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).