TAMPA — Busch Gardens on Tuesday announced the death of Bala, a 13-year old Bengal tiger who “incurred a major injury from an atypical interaction with her brother,” according to park officials.
“Her wounds were too great and she was humanely euthanized,” said a statement from Busch Gardens. “A full necropsy is underway and the team will know more about her passing once test results have been received.”
Bala has lived in the park with her brother Bhutan since 2007. Bhutan is not presently being treated for any injuries, said park spokeswoman Rebecca Romzek, and “the team is keeping a close eye on him at this time."
Eight tigers live at Busch Gardens, she said, and they rotate on and off in the park’s Jungala habitat where visitors can see them.
Bala was often referred to as the “redhead” of the park’s tigers. She was what is sometimes called a golden tiger or strawberry tiger due to her strawberry white/blonde coloration. It is caused by a recessive gene, making a golden tiger’s striping much paler than usual.
While Busch Gardens is best known as a theme park with the most roller coasters of any park in Florida, it is also a zoo.
Last year, the park announced it had earned the Humane Certified seal through the American Humane Conservation program, “demonstrating the good welfare and treatment given to the creatures in its care.” It also has received accreditation from the independent Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the animal welfare body that inspects the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and eight other countries.
“Bala was loved by her care team and the guests who visited Jungala,” the park posted on its Facebook page, where fans were posting their own pictures of her. “She will be dearly missed.”