20th July 2004 – 23rd August 2023

Colchester Zoo announce sad passing of beloved 19yr old Amur Tiger, Anoushka.

We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Anoushka, or Nush as she was affectionately known by her keepers. Anoushka was born on the 20th July 2004 at Linton Zoo, before joining us here at Colchester Zoo 8th July 2005.

At 19 years of age, Anoushka was an aging individual who was under regular supervision by our veterinarians due to her displaying features typical of a geriatric cat, such as skeletal changes linked to spinal arthritis, decreasing coat condition, and weakening eyesight and hearing. In the last few days, her condition deteriorated, and the decision was made to put her to sleep in the interest of her welfare.

Colchester Zoo’s Veterinarian, Elliott Simpson-Brown said, “It has been a pleasure working so closely alongside the Animal Care Team and to have had the privilege to have known Anoushka. The decision to put her to sleep was incredibly difficult, but the right decision for Anoushka at this time. After so many amazing years at Colchester Zoo, it is the last and kindest decision to make for her given her recent deterioration.”

After calling ‘Tiger Taiga’ home at Colchester Zoo for 18yrs, Anoushka built irreplaceable bonds with the Animal Care Team, especially with those who had known her since she arrived in 2005. Anoushka was a firm favourite with many visitors too, so this is a devastating loss for all of the Colchester Zoo family. The average longevity of an Amur Tiger is around 15yrs so at the age of 19yrs, the team know that she lived a long and happy life.

Colchester Zoo’s Head Keeper, Ang Matthews had the pleasure of working with Anoushka for 11 years, she said, “Anoushka was renowned for her princess-like behaviour, avoiding water where she could and dramatically shaking her feet if she got wet. She was always pristine in appearance and liked to be independent, doing her own thing. Anoushka was particularly responsive to her training, such as target training, stepping onto the weigh scales and always liked interacting with her keepers, seeing what they were up to. The tigers all enjoy scent enrichment, Anoushka particularly liked fruity perfumes and her preferred scent was always ‘Tommy Girl’, so this will always remind me of her.”

Anoushka was born at Linton Zoo on the 20th July 2004, and arrived at Colchester Zoo just short of her first birthday with her brothers, Uri and Czar, on the 8th July 2005. Anoushka’s brothers moved on to other zoos in July 2006 but this was the year she met her partner of 14yrs, Igor, who arrived in the November. Sadly, Igor passed away in August 2021, but the pair were inseparable, despite tigers usually preferring a solitary life, they truly were best friends and so the Animal Care Team take comfort in knowing that she’s now back with her soulmate, Igor.

Anoushka was a non-breeding cat but played a vital role in supporting the conservation work of her wild counterparts, helping Colchester Zoo’s Action for the Wild to donate over £34,000 to wild Amur Tiger and leopard conservation in the Russian Far East.

Anoushka’s passing now leaves 2 Amur Tigers at Colchester Zoo, Taiga and her daughter Tatana who was born at the zoo in June 2019. It is hoped that there will be further opportunities in the future to breed this endangered big cat at Colchester Zoo but for now, Taiga and Tatana will live separately due to them preferring solitary lives.

It’s always difficult when an animal passes away, especially one with a big personality that has been at the zoo for so many years, they truly are one of the family. Anoushka leaves a huge hole in our hearts, but we have many cherished memories of her which will last forever.

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