Artificial insemination of a captive Amur tiger killed her

COMMENT AND REPORT ON TIGER NEWS: This is a tragic story because the Amur tiger is rare. There are desperate measures being taken to protect and conserve this iconic animal. They live in the Far East of Russia, in that icy wilderness of birch trees and snowy landscapes. They are large animals. They've evolved that way to keep warm in the cold climate. It is believed that there are 500 left in the world. This puts pressure on zoos to try and breed them successfully.

Artificial insemination of a captive Amur tiger killed it
 Artificial insemination of a captive Amur tiger killed it.
Photo: Cheyenne Mountain Zoom.

Tigers usually breed well in zoos but in this instance, at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA, they tried artificial insemination of a female, Savelii, because their resident male wouldn't mate with her to produce offspring naturally.

The operation went badly wrong and it killed her. A spokesperson for the zoo, Bob Chastain, said that: "She passed due to complications during recovery from this important artificial insemination procedure".

I wonder whether she died because of the general anaesthetic which must've been required in order to carry out the operation. Cats can die under a general anaesthetic. And the odds are not that extreme at around one in 1000 in my opinion.

They had seven veterinarians on hand for the procedure as well as "reproductive biologists, and representatives from three AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) accredited zoos and one university". They apparently did all they could to make it work but it didn't at great cost.

Chastain is obviously distraught. He said that in the moments after she died he touched her and reminded himself that, "This is a tiger. This is a tiger lying here".

The zoo understand that they walk a fine line between doing the right things in the interests of conservation and risking the welfare of the tigers in their care.

The underlying problem, however, is not this disaster but the fact that humankind got to the position where there are only 500 Siberian tigers left in the wild. There's plenty of space in Siberia so why did it happen? 

Sport hunting is probably the true answer. For many years it went unhindered until they realised that they were running out of tigers. Then they started a rearguard action to try and conserve them and now this. It is typical human behaviour: a failure in their relationship with the tiger. See France's abuse of the tiger.


  1. I wonder if the male has a low T level? Maybe that is why he wasn't interested in mating. Such a sad story. :(


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