Published: 12:44, 23 November 2021
| Updated: 15:44, 23 November 2021
A wildlife park in Kent says that it is 'devastated' following the death of one of its tigers.
The Big Cat Sanctuary in Smarden, near Ashford, revealed it had been forced to put down its 'iconic' Sumatran tiger Nias last week.
The 18-year-old big cat had been suffering from age-related mobility issues for some time, and a park spokesman said the decision had been made after he became very unwell.
Nias lived at the sanctuary for 17-and-a-half years, having arrived aged just one, living "as a bachelor" for some time as an adolescent.
A spokesman said: "His beautiful broad head and shoulders, jet black stripes against a vibrant orange coat, and impressive characteristic ruff around his cheeks and neck were the perfect illustration of what a powerful and regal tiger he was.
"He immediately became the perfect poster boy for the Big Cat Sanctuary, an icon from the start."
He would eventually be paired with fellow Sumatran tiger Puna, living a very affectionate life with her and siring four cubs together.
"The two were thick as thieves and very affectionate, they went on to produce four beautiful cubs and also have many grand-cubs," a spokesman addd.
"Although not often expected to babysit, Nias was mixed with his cubs for a time and treated them with good nature and patience; a real sign of his cool and calm personality."
Sadly, last week the magestic cat became very unwell, and vet Dr Nic Masters was called to find that he was in advanced stages of kidney failure which was irreversible.
"It was decided that it would be in Nias’s best interest to put him to sleep, and we said goodbye to our fantastic boy on Tuesday afternoon, he will be greatly missed," a spokesman said.
"2021 has had highs and lows and we want to thank everyone for their continued support that will certainly help us through these difficult times.
"Looking back on Nias's life at The Big Cat Sanctuary, he has been an iconic member of the family who has raised so much awareness for the plight of big cats around the world and has played a vital role in protecting his species as part of the breeding programme.
"He will be deeply missed by everyone who knew him and we welcome you to send in your tributes and memories of our special boy."