HILO (AP) - A white male Bengal tiger that was a longtime star attraction at the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo in Hilo has died at age 15.
Namaste was euthanized Thursday because he had developed multiple health problems, zoo officials said. He was buried in his enclosure, and a monument will mark the spot.
"It's a sad day when we lose our main attraction," said County Parks and Recreation Director Clayton Honma. "He meant so much to us. He was on our logo."
The tiger was given to the zoo in 1999 by Dirk Arthur, a Las Vegas magician, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Friday.
Namaste had developed complications from hip dysplasia, according to Honma. The tiger also broke his leg last year, but the dysplasia was a big reason why the animal was not mobile.
"He had a hard time," Honma said. "His quality of life and his mobility was terrible already."
Honma said arrangements were being made to obtain another tiger.
Wailani Gonsalves and Kiel Brende of Waa Waa took their two sons to the zoo Thursday afternoon. The family always looked forward to seeing Namaste during their visits.
"And the last few times we came, we just saw him lying down inside the cage," Gonsalves said. "He looked really sad and sick."
The tiger's daily afternoon feedings drew crowds, and birthdays were big events at the zoo. His final celebration was in September, when he received a catnip pillow and a bone ice cake.
To accommodate a new, younger animal, the zoo plans to make renovations to the tiger habitat.