The last tiger at Blackpool Zoo, female big cat Alyona, was being carefully watched by keepers after the death of her companion Zambar.
He died aged 14 yesterday after suffering from health problems for the last six months.
The news led to hundreds of tributes being paid on social media, with the Amur tiger described as a “hugely popular member of our zoo family” by attraction director Darren Webster (inset).
He added: “Staff and keepers are extremely saddened at his passing and are being comforted by the kind messages of condolence we are receiving.”
Zambar, who had been receiving specialist treatment from keepers and various vets, arrived in Blackpool in 2010 after being born and hand-reared at Marwell Zoo six years earlier.
He was joined by Alyona in 2012, and the pair became parents to Barney and Radzi in 2014. They moved on to other zoos in Europe.
Writing on the zoo’s Facebook page, Alison Lawton said she was “ever so sorry” about Zambar’s death, and added: “My son and I had a magical day together at your zoo, a rainy day, and we felt like we had it all to ourself so spent a long time looking at him. Such a magnificent feeling to be stood so close and able to look into each others’ eyes.”
Amur tigers – also known as Siberian tigers – are an endangered species. There are around 540 left in the wild, according to the World Wildlife charity.
The Russian Geographical Society said the average lifespan ranges from 16-18 years, or up to 25 in captivity.