Houston Zoo workers and patrons woke to a world without Pandu today. The 16-year-old Malayan tiger was "humanely euthanized" yesterday due to failing health, said the zoo in a statement. Nicknamed "Professor," the tiger was described as an "extremely vocal cat" who enjoyed a higher quality of life after stem cell therapy and surgery on his elbow in 2012. "These treatments greatly added to his quality of life, and gave him the energy to participate in some of his favorite activities—swimming and painting," per the statement (he apparently had a preference for purple paint). But recently, Pandu appeared to be in pain, lacked an appetite, and was lethargic, and so officials intervened.
Pandu had been at the zoo since 1999 and had a 14-year-old female companion named Satu. There are only 300 or so Malayan tigers in the wild, according to the Houston Chronicle, and the species is on the endangered list. The largest threats to the tigers, which are found on the Malay Peninsula and in southern Thailand, are logging and poaching, according to the World Wildlife Fund. The WWF adds this: "Livestock loss due to tigers is estimated to have cost more than $400,000 from 1993-2003 in Terengganu, one of the poorest areas in Peninsular Malaysia. In retaliation, tigers are often killed by authorities or angry villagers." (A new death has brought a rhino species down to its final four.)