Erie Zoo News & Updates

Erie Zoo mourns the passing of Amur tiger, Viktor

Posted on September 17th, 2022 at 10:29 AM
Erie Zoo mourns the passing of Amur tiger, Viktor


September 17, 2022       

Contact: Emily Smicker


Erie Zoo mourns the passing of Amur tiger, Viktor


Erie, PA – This Saturday, September 17th, the Erie Zoo is mourning the loss of senior Amur tiger, Viktor, who passed away Saturday morning.


On Tuesday, September 13th, 17 year old Amur tiger Viktor underwent a procedure to remedy an ingrown claw, perform a general physical exam, and obtain diagnostics relating to minor symptoms he had recently begun exhibiting. Throughout his time under anesthesia, he was closely monitored by the full Erie Zoo veterinary staff and his animal care team. Viktor was exhibiting mild but unusual behaviors of lethargy and lack of appetite along with discolored urine prior to the procedure, all of which seemed to worsen after the exam, leading veterinary staff to begin medical treatment immediately. The cause of death is not known at this time, but suspected to be linked to an underlying illness based on his previous clinical symptoms and age.


“We make a commitment to ensure that all of our animals live the healthiest and most comfortable lives throughout all stages of their life. As a geriatric animal, we had to weigh the risk of sedating Viktor, but ultimately determined it was best for his wellbeing and comfort to move forward with the procedure to remove his ingrown claw and perform the necessary diagnostics. Sadly, despite our best efforts, he ultimately succumbed to what appears to be a preexisting condition. We will be conducting further tests and a necropsy to determine the cause of death,” said Erie Zoo Head Veterinarian Dr. Jenna Epstein, D.V.M.


According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Statistics median life expectancy for male Amur tigers is 16 years. At 17 years old, Viktor had spent over 6 of those years in the care of the Erie Zoo. Nicknamed by his caretakers “Mr. Floofy” in reference to his fluffy coat and larger than life stature, he was known to have a charismatic and affectionate personality; often “chuffing” (a vocalization made by tigers to show a friendly greeting- also called “prusten”) to his favorite keepers and engaging with visitors.


“This has been a very challenging time for our Zoo family with the passing of both our elderly lioness, Nala, and now Viktor, especially so close together. Over 60 of our 300 animals have surpassed their average life expectancy and these elderly animals continue to live comfortable and enriching lives in their senior years. Every team member here commits to daily and personalized care for every animal. Strong bonds are created and when an animal passes it is felt to the same magnitude of losing a loved one. Viktor and Nala are true testaments to this bond and will be deeply missed,” stated Roo Kojancie, Chief Operations Officer.


Viktor served as an ambassador to his species, Amur tigers (formerly known as Siberian tigers), which have been classified as Endangered by the IUCN Red List. The wild population of the Amur tiger is currently estimated to be less than 500. Their threats include of loss of prey, habitat loss, and poaching. The Erie Zoo continues to contribute to wild Amur tiger conservation and education with current 14 year old female Amur tiger, Tikva.


The Erie Zoo is dedicated to nurturing an appreciation of the world and providing the Erie community with meaningful educational and recreational experiences that foster a greater sense of awareness, stewardship and conservation of animals and plants. The Erie Zoo is open daily from 10am-5pm and more information can be found at