The Minnesota Zoo's oldest Amur tiger died

Molniy was among zookeepers' favorite animals.
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The Minnesota Zoo's oldest tiger has died.

Molniy, a male Amur tiger who came to the zoo in 2002, died Sunday due to chronic health issues from old age, the Minnesota Zoo announced Wednesday.

He was 16 years old, making him one of the oldest tigers the Minnesota Zoo has ever had. Amur tigers typically live to be 10-15 years old in the wild and 16-22 years or more in captivity, according to the Pittsburgh Zoo.

"Molniy was a favorite among his zookeepers," Northern Trail Curator Diana Weinhardt told MPR News. "He will be greatly missed by all the staff who worked with him in the 14 years he was here."

The Minnesota Zoo currently has three other Amur tigers. You can find them on the Northern Trail at the Minnesota Zoo.

More on Amur tigers

Amur tigers are the largest of all cats and are one of six remaining tiger subspecies, the zoo's website says. In the wild, tigers live in far eastern Asia – their thick fur and padded paws help protect them from the cold and icy winters there (and in Minnesota).

The tigers are considered endangered. Their habitat has shrunk considerably, and their population dropped to no more than 30 in the 1930s – they were hunted because of their threat to livestock and humans.

In 2005, biologists estimated there were 360 in the wild, which shows that the animal's population can rebound if they remain protected, the zoo notes.

For information on how the Minnesota Zoo and other zoos are helping save tigers through the Tiger Conservation Campaign, click here.

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