Bala the Tiger
The staff at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is mourning the loss of one of its own.
A Bengal tiger named Bala.
The 13-year-old animal was killed in an incident involving her brother Bhutan, Busch Gardens said in a Facebook post Tuesday.
Bala lived with Bhutan at Jungala, the 4-acre attraction featuring up-close animal encounters, since 2007 and was “receiving world-class care,” the post said.
“Known for her unique coloring, Bala was loved by her care team and the guests who visited Jungala. She will be dearly missed.”
Condolences poured in on Facebook, and many social media users posted videos and pictures of Bala.
“My heart breaks.”
“RIP to this beauty!”
“A beautiful girl with a sassy spirit!”
“Will miss her cute face.”
On Wednesday, the park gave more details in the comments section.
“Bala incurred a major injury from an atypical interaction with her brother and was transported to the park’s Animal Care Center for emergency care. Despite the veterinarians’ best efforts, her wounds were too great and she was humanely euthanized,” read the post.
A full necropsy is underway, BGTB said, and the team is awaiting test results.
Officials at the Florida park, open since 1959, say the tiger’s death was the first of its kind.
“Busch Gardens has successfully managed tiger populations for nearly 50 years,” said the post. “This situation is the first occurrence of a fatal injury between tigers in the park’s history.”
In the wild, tigers are “solitary and territorial,” says the park, and disputes between tigers competing for breeding or hunting grounds are common, “especially with human activity depleting their native habitats.”
But one sibling killing another is not something they often see.
“Bala and Bhutan have lived together their entire lives: This unusual interaction was atypical of the behavior they have demonstrated over the past 12 years.”