DULUTH -- In the week after welcoming the surprise birth of an Angolan colobus monkey, the Lake Superior Zoo is now mourning the loss of its 15-year-old Amur tiger, Lana.
Lana was put to rest Wednesday afternoon after undergoing treatment for a liver disease since September.
Among zoo staff and the greater community, Lana's presence will be missed, said the zoo's director of animal management, Dave Thompson.
"Above all I want to commend my staff for all their efforts to ensure that Lana's quality of life was maintained at the highest possible level," Thompson said in a news conference Thursday. "Lana was very charismatic and a very valued member of our zoo family. She was also a great ambassador of her species."
Lana has been touching lives in the community since she arrived at the Lake Superior Zoo in 2015. She was born at the Minnesota Zoo.
"She was rejected by her mom and one of our keepers actually helped raise Lana when she was a young kitten," Thompson said.
In the upcoming months, the plan hopes to have another Amur tiger at the zoo, whether it's one or two, in order to represent the species. Until then, Lana's former exhibit will remain closed as she was the only Amur tiger at the zoo.
Before Lana died, the Lake Superior Zoo was one of 47 facilities in North America to have an Amur tiger.
Lana's died at an age typical for her species. The lifespan for the Amur tiger is usually between 10 and 15 years in a natural environment or 15 to 20 years in a zoological facility, Thompson said.
Beyea referred to Lana as the most enthusiastic tiger she's ever worked with.
"She was just an absolute joy," Beyea said. "She really has a special place in our hearts ... whenever I'd go to a meeting or church people would always say, 'How's the tiger doing?' She was really special to a lot of people."
It's estimated that there are between 350 and 500 Amur tigers currently in the wild, due to deforestation, poaching and illegal hunting, Thompson said.