It is with great sadness that the Great Bend-Brit Spaugh Zoo announced Wednesday the passing of its beloved Bengal Tiger, Sunny. Sunny Delight was humanely euthanized Wednesday after animal care and veterinary staff decided that his quality of life had deteriorated to a point that we could no longer keep him comfortable.
For the last five years, Sunny was monitored closely and had undergone treatment for severe arthritis and stomach ulcers, zoo officials said. During his 2012 annual physical, he was found to be in the beginning stages of kidney failure and in 2014 a cancerous tumor was removed from the base of his tail. A necropsy has been performed and results are pending.
Sunny moved to the zoo along with his brother Spirit in 1998 when they were just eight weeks old. While Spirit got most of the public’s attention because he was a white tiger, Sunny has always been his keeper’s favorite due to his friendly disposition, the officials said. He was always eager to offer a friendly “chuff” to anyone.
“We are devastated,” said zookeeper Ashley Burdick. “Tigers in captivity have a life expectancy of 15-17 years and we were honored to have Sunny two years longer.”
He would have been 19 years old on Sept. 2, she said. “We knew this day would come, but our hearts are still broken at the loss.”
The zoo will not immediately acquire a new tiger as the building and yard are nearly 20 years old and in need of some renovation. After the renovations are complete, the zoo will seek to acquire Malayan or Sumatran tigers through the Species Survival Plan.
For more information, contact the zookeepers at the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo 620-793-4226.