Kisa, Detroit Zoo's oldest tiger, dies at 18

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

The Detroit Zoo has lost its oldest tiger, officials said Thursday.

"We are heartbroken to announce the passing of Kisa, a beloved Amur tiger," the zoo said in a statement on Facebook.

"... She passed today during a veterinary procedure meant to manage Kisa’s arthritis symptoms and improve her quality of life."


Born Aug. 12, 2003, at the Royal Oak zoo, she was the eldest in the Devereux Tiger Forest, a habitat she shared with Nikolai and Ameliya, according to the notice.

Life expectancy for Amur tigers, formerly known as Siberian tigers, is 10-15 years in the wild, the zoo said.

The Devereux habitat opened in 2019 on 1 acre across from the zoo's Holtzman Wildlife Foundation Red Panda Forest.

View of the new Devereaux Tiger Forest habitat at the Detroit Zoo.

Kisa, which means "kitty" in Russian, "loved taking long walks through her home — especially if there was snow on the ground," the zoo said Thursday.

"Associate Curator of Mammals Betsie Meister describes Kisa as an individual who followed her own set of rules. Despite being known for her spirited attitude, she was mild-mannered with animal care staff and has always been a favorite among those who worked with her for nearly two decades."

Animal care and veterinary staff members had been monitoring and treating Kisa's age-related ailments. She also had been on three medications "to help keep her comfortable in her later years," the zoo said.

"Her absence leaves a hole in our hearts, and she will be missed by staff and guests alike," the statement said.