Jon McRay, Smithsonian National Zoo
A photo of Soyono the tiger, by Jon McRay of the Smithsonian National Zoo.
The Smithsonian National Zoo says Soyono, a 19-year-old Sumatran tiger, was euthanized Monday morning after battling health problems, including a degenerative spinal disorder.
Soy, as the tiger was affectionately called by zookeepers, started showing signs of problems with balance in early October, according to Smithsonian officials. Veterinarians discovered Soy had a condition called spondylosis, which can create abnormal pressure on the tiger's nerves.
Despite threatment, Soy's health and quality of life only got worse, which led animal care staff to make the decision to euthanize the tiger.
Soy was born at the Zoo in 1993 and gave birth to a total of seven cubs herself. She was part of a breeding and conservation program, as the Sumatran tiger species is endangered.
The Zoo says in the wild, the average Sumatran tiger lives to be about 15 years old. In the care of humans, they usually live into their late teens and early 20s.