Carlita, the 21-year-old white Bengal tiger who had been at Zoo Miami for almost two decades, was euthanized on Monday, the zoo said.
In May 2012, Carlita was retired to a special enclosure in a secluded quarantine area because she was starting to show signs of her age, the zoo said. Recently, her health deteriorated quickly and her quality of life was poor with no possibility of improving.
Carlita was born in captivity in July 1992 and came to the zoo two years later. She shared the exhibit with two other female Bengal tigers called Lyric and Roshe. She was the last surviving member of that group.
"White tigers were extremely popular back in the 80’s and 90’s when their rare white coloring and almost mythical background drew tremendous attention from the general public. Contrary to popular belief, white tigers are not a separate species or albinos but rather a genetic mutation of a typical tiger where a rare gene produces the white coloring" the zoo said in an email. "Since that time, zoos have shifted their attention from exhibiting genetic mutations to concentrating on species of naturally wild occurring animals that are in danger of extinction."
The zoo said that there will soon be a new exhibit of a pair of extremely endangered Sumatran tigers, and it hopes to breed them.
"If successful, it will be the first time in nearly 30 years that tiger cubs will be born at the zoo," the zoo said.