Letter to the Editor re “Oregon Zoo Tiger…Dies”

Letter to the Editor re:Oregon Zoo Tiger, 15, Suffers Apparent Seizures, Dies
Submitted: March 26, 2014
News outlet: The Register-Guard

The Oregon Zoo recently announced that 15 year old tiger Nicole has died.  According to the Zoo’s announcement, Nicole was born at the John Ball Zoological Garden in Michigan in 1998 and was transferred to the Oregon Zoo in 2000 where she remained until her death.  Her brother Mikhail remains on exhibit at the Zoo.

Nicole was thus a captive her entire life and never knew that being a tiger does not necessarily mean existing merely to amuse and be gawked at by humans or that tiger habitat generally does not include coffee stands and gift shops.  She likely did not know that her experience as a tiger was incredibly unique even if she knew all too well that it was painfully, perhaps mind-numbingly, shallow.

In the death announcement Oregon Zoo officials praised her for her docile nature as she was reportedly quite compliant for procedures such as blood draws and dental work.  By a captor’s logic, docility is the highest of virtues and yet there was no possibility of her ever being released for “good behavior”.  Her zoo experience rendered her dysfunctional and dependent, unable to live a normal tiger life in the wild, unable to live free of those who confined her.

She was born into captivity and she died in captivity.  It is the least glamorous and most depressing of tragedies.

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