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Endangered tiger born at the Toronto Zoo dies in ‘freak accident’

Staff at the Toronto Zoo are “emotionally processing” the death of Mila, a 2-year-old Amur tiger born at the facility, who died last week in a “freak accident” involving anesthesia at its new home at a U.S. zoo.

A statement by the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (CMZ) in Colorado said Mila died on Friday from a spinal injury after slipping off a waist-high bench while under anesthesia for a dental surgery.

“She could have slid from that height a hundred times and landed in a variety of other positions and been unaffected,” Dr. Eric Klaphake, head veterinarian at the CMZ, said a written statement.

Given the short time frame between her lying down and slipping off, the zoo said it was impossible “from a human safety standpoint” to stop the 270-lb tiger from falling.

“The team quickly entered her den when it was safe and diligently tried for 40 minutes to give her life-saving care,” Klaphake said.

The zoo called the news “heartbreaking” in its statement, and said it is establishing a fund in honour of Mila to support endangered species conservation projects in the wild.

Mila was relocated to CMZ earlier this year “after showing signs that she was ready for her own space away from her mother,” the statement reads. Amur tigers are solitary animals.

She was one of three cubs born at the Toronto Zoo born to ‘Mazy’ in 2021. Two of the cubs had to be euthanized in the weeks after birth due to organ defects. They were the first litter to be born at the zoo since 2007.

The facility said it is working alongside the Toronto Zoo to process the loss and is “focused on preventing this freak accident from happening again in the future.”

Amur tigers are critically endangered, with only around 500 in their natural habitats and about 100 in zoos in the United States and Canada.

With files by the Canadian Press

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