Tiger dies at safari park during school trip

Sassy, a Siberian (Amur) Tiger, at Safari Niagara in Stevensville, passed away Thursday June 19,...

Sassy, a Siberian (Amur) Tiger, at Safari Niagara in Stevensville, passed away Thursday June 19, 2014. She had been battling age related illnesses. SUBMITTED PHOTO/QMI AGENCY

Tony Ricciuto, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:52 PM ET

FORT ERIE, Ont. -- Some young school children got to see the "circle of life" firsthand Thursday when the Siberian tiger at an animal park died during their visit.

"It's just unfortunate that it happened when people were in the park," Safari Niagara general manager Tim Tykolis said.

Sassy, who was about 16 years of age, had been battling osteoarthritis, and park officials had been monitoring her condition over the past six months.

"We had been watching her closely, and because of her age and condition she had been slowing down. It's a part of life and we are going to miss her greatly."

Crissy Schneider, of Grimsby, Ont., said her five-year-old son Jackson was at the park with her husband Derek when the incident happened, and it was quite upsetting.

Safari Niagara is a 150-acre, privately owned and operated nature park in Stevensville, and is home to more than 750 native and exotic mammals, reptiles and birds.

Tykolis said Sassy was about eight weeks of age when they got her, several years before the park opened in 2002. She was an Amur tiger, which most people know better as a Siberian tiger.

"It's the whole circle of life, it happens to animals and to all of us -- we live our lives and we pass," said Tykolis.

When park officials were notified of the incident, their senior animal care manager attended to assess the situation, the area was sealed off and Sassy was removed from that location.

Sassy was kept with another tiger, a male named Rasha, and they have been together about three years.

"It's going to be tough on Rasha and we will have to find him another mate," said Tykolis.

tony.ricciuto@sunmedia.ca

 


Videos

Photos