DULUTH – A beloved tiger named Lana who lived in the Lake Superior Zoo died Wednesday, drawing dozens of comments from locals who have long considered the friendly feline a zoo favorite.
"She was a very personable tiger," said Lizzy Larson, the zoo's primary carnivore keeper. "She often seemed to enjoy seeing the guests and especially her keepers that she knew really well."
The 15-year-old Amur tiger was diagnosed with liver disease during the fall and was receiving treatment, but on Wednesday zoo staff noticed she was lethargic and refusing to eat — not her normal self. Blood tests showed her liver values had doubled in a month.
"It was at this time that our animal care and vet staff made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize her due to her diminished quality of life," the zoo posted Thursday morning on Facebook.
Larson said Lana's favorite thing to do was tear up cardboard boxes and paper bags. When she saw visitors, she would gallop over and jump up on the windows. She was a hearty tiger who ate 10 to 15 pounds of beef a day and often spent more time outside in the Duluth autumn and winter than she did in the summer.
Lana was born at the Minnesota Zoo in 2004 and transferred to another facility out of state with her sister. She came to Duluth in November 2015.
"She was a charismatic animal who bravely represented her species and brought awareness to the threats Amur tigers face in the wild," said the zoo's post, which nearly 1,000 people had liked by Thursday evening. Larson said the zoo will get one or two new tigers in the future.
The Lake Superior Zoo has held birthday parties for Lana in recent years. Though 15 is quite old for a tiger, staffers were already planning for a Sweet 16 gala for Lana in May.
"She's just going to be very, very missed," Larson said.