DENVER (KDVR) — The Denver Zoo announced with a heavy heart that their 12-year-old Amur tiger, Yuri, has passed away after a significant decline in health.

According to the Denver Zoo, Yuri’s health significantly declined in October. After a recent exam, it was revealed that the 12-year-old tiger was experiencing anemia, dehydration and systemic inflammation.

Yuri also dealt with a number of chronic health conditions including liver and neurological diseases.

Due to his recent decline and his chronically managed health conditions, Yuri’s team made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize him to prevent further suffering.

According to the zoo, Yuri came to the Mile High City from the Bronx Zoo in 2019 at the recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan. Over the last three years, the Animal Care and Veterinary Medicine teams at the Denver Zoo treated Yuri for his chronic health conditions.

  • Amur tiger, Yuri
  • Amur tiger, Yuri
  • Amur tiger, Yuri

Denver Zoo said the loss has been hard on the entire staff, particularly those who cared for them over the years. The zoo shared a few words from the staff about what they loved most about Yuri:

“Yuri was one of the most magnificent animals I ever worked with. His paws were like dinner plates, and his teeth were 4-inch daggers, but his sweet chuff was enough to melt your heart.”  

“He loved his rocker, snack shack, and scent enrichment. Even if we hid food inside his rocker, he’d immediately dump it so that he could carry it around. He was a giant goofball that taught me how important it was to earn an animal’s trust and then maintain that trust through simple training sessions.” 

“Yuri was a giant goofy cat. He loved to rest in the sun whenever it was out. He was known for having his tongue sticking out at any given moment, especially when he was sleeping. He loved playing with his favorite toys like his rocker, snack shack, and barrels. He would always walk with keepers along his habitat barrier, chuffing the whole way.” 

“Yuri was a goofy boy. He loved flopping over on top of his small pine trees (making it hard to grow new trees in his habitat) and carrying his favorite toys around. Above all, I have personally seen him overcome obstacle after obstacle.  He was incredibly resilient, and had an impressive capacity to learn.” 

“He was a fighter for sure – he pulled through more than any other animal I’ve seen.” 

The Denver Zoo said that Yuri will be missed by all.