Oakland Zoo loses two popular tigers to advanced disease

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Two tigers, rescued more than 10 years ago from a private company that used them to take pictures, died Tuesday at the Auckland Zoo.

Sisters Molly and Milo, who had advanced illnesses, were euthanized when it turned out they were suffering.

“We have very sad news to share with you,” Auckland Zoo said in a statement. “Today we had to say goodbye to tiger sisters Molly and Milo, who have been part of our Auckland Zoo family for the past 10 years.”

Molly and Milo and their sisters, Ginger and Grace, were raised by private owners in Texas, prematurely taken from their mother and then used as photo props for people to take for a fee, an enterprise known as the “tiger petting” industry.

Zoo officials say that once tigers grew too hard to handle, they were no longer profitable for their owners and suffered from neglect. The tigers were eventually rescued by the US Department of Agriculture, and were to be euthanized – a fate awaiting many privately owned wild animals.

Two tiger sisters, Molly and Milo, were killed at the Auckland Zoo on Tuesday. They had kidney disease and other health problems. The tigers were rescued from Texas breeders who used the tigers and two of their sisters as photo props. The tigers have been at the Auckland Zoo for 10 years. (Courtesy of Auckland Zoo)

Auckland Zoo stepped in to take all four tigers, and the quartet joined the zoo in October 2011. Molly and Milo were the last members of the family. Grace passed away in September 2019, and Ginger died in August.

Over the past decade, tigers have served as ambassadors for their breeds, and their story helps zoo visitors learn the sad truth behind the tiger’s petting and the making of the exotic pets that have been victimized.

The health of the tigers was deteriorating, most likely as a result of inbreeding and the poor care they received from their previous owners. Both had advanced kidney disease and debilitating arthritis. The zoo’s veterinary team recently discovered that Milo had a cancerous tumor that had spread and was inoperable.

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