MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A 12-year-old Amur tiger named Putin at the Minnesota Zoo died unexpectedly during a routine medical procedure.
According to the zoo, the male tiger experienced cardiac failure during the Wednesday procedure.
"Despite heroic emergency efforts of veterinarians, animal health technicians, and zookeepers, he did not survive," the zoo said in a press release. "This is a profound loss."
The procedure was a preventative health exam that included taking samples to assist in breeding efforts. The zoo says the breeding and specimen collection is critically important for globally-threatened species such as the Amur tiger.
The tiger was born in the Czech Republic and given the name Putin. He was at the Denmark Zoo for six years before arriving in Minnesota in 2015.
"Today is an incredibly hard day for all of us at the Minnesota Zoo and we will be mourning for quite some time," Minnesota Zoo Director John Frawley said Thursday. "Our Zoo has played a key role in global tiger conservation throughout our history and we currently are co-leaders of the Tiger Conservation Campaign, which has raised millions of dollars for tiger conservation. While this loss is great, we can be proud of our efforts - past, present, and future - to advance tiger conservation worldwide."
There are believed to be less than 500 Amur tigers surviving in the wild and 103 of them in accredited zoos in North America.
The zoo says Putin's "genetically important legacy lives on" because he has sired multiple cubs, including one born in 2017 at the zoo.
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