Zoo Atlanta mourns passing of Kavi the Sumatran tiger
Friday, December 9, 2016

Geriatric tiger was an ambassador for one of the Zoo’s most endangered species 

Kavi, a 15-year-old male Sumatran tiger, has died at Zoo Atlanta. The Zoo Atlanta Veterinary Team had been treating the geriatric tiger for several years for arthritis, and within the last several weeks, Kavi’s condition grew progressively worse due to complications of severe arthritis, mobility challenges and other age-related issues. Following a recent sharp decline in his condition, the Animal Management and Veterinary Teams made the decision to euthanize Kavi on December 8, 2016, when it became apparent that his quality of life was compromised. 

“Zoo Atlanta is saddened by the loss of Kavi, who was not only a special member of our family and a magnificent cat, but a representative of a critically endangered species,” said Hayley Murphy, DVM, Vice President of Animal Divisions. “The fact that he lived such a long life is a great testament to the dedication and hard work of his care team, who shared a deep commitment to Kavi and to preserving his quality of life.” 

Born January 8, 2001, at Akron Zoo, Kavi moved to Zoo Atlanta in 2006. He was the father of Sohni and Sanjiv, who were born to female Chelsea in 2011. At the recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Tiger Species Survival Plan® (SSP), he moved to Smithsonian’s National Zoo, where he also fathered two cubs, in 2012. He returned to Zoo Atlanta in 2014. 

Female Chelsea, 13, continues to reside at Zoo Atlanta. The pair’s offspring, Sohni and Sanjiv, now live at other AZA zoos. The species is solitary in the wild, with males and females coming together only briefly for breeding.  

Kavi was an ambassador for one of the Zoo’s rarest mammal species. Sumatran tigers are classified as critically endangered, with fewer than 300 believed to remain in the wild. Poaching for traditional medicines and habitat loss and territory fragmentation, largely as a result of slash-and-burn deforestation for palm oil plantations, are the most imminent threats to the species, which is found only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. For information on the palm oil crisis, and to learn more about the ways your everyday shopping choices can help save tigers and other wildlife affected by the problem, visit 

A necropsy, or the animal equivalent of an autopsy, will be performed through the Zoo’s partnership with the University of Georgia Zoo and Exotic Animal Pathology Service in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Results should be available in several weeks.