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Beloved Birmingham Zoo Tiger Diagnosed with Cancer

The Birmingham Zoo’s beloved Malayan tiger, Kumar, has been diagnosed with cancer and is set to undergo a procedure in April to further evaluate the extent of the cancer.

In the routine daily physical assessment of Kumar, the Zoo’s Animal Care Professionals noticed a raised area near Kumar’s right hip. Using trained husbandry behaviors, the Animal Care Professionals worked with Kumar to have him present his hip close enough to the safety mesh so the Zoo Veterinarians could use a needle to get a sample of the area. This was sent to a lab for analysis and unfortunately, the sample showed that Kumar has a malignant sarcoma, a type of cancer that invades the soft tissues. Kumar is scheduled for a procedure in early April to further evaluate the extent of the cancer. During this assessment, a complete physical will be performed.

Cancer is not uncommon in aged animals such as Kumar, who turns 18 next month. Kumar was born on April 20, 1999 at the Cincinnati Zoo and came to the Birmingham Zoo on June 19, 2001. Kumar is a Malayan tiger, a smaller species with black stripes on reddish-ochre fur. Malayan tigers are found throughout southern and central parts of Malay Peninsula with their range extending into southern Thailand. Over the last one hundred years, tiger populations have decreased dramatically. Deforestation and hunting has reduced the number in the wild from hundreds of thousands to between 600-800.

Malayan tigers in Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited Zoos are managed by the AZA Species Survival Plan ®, a committee consisting of North American zoo professionals that ensures the survival of the species. The average lifespan of a Malayan tiger in the wild is 15 years.

For the press release, click here.