DEVASTATED zookeepers at Colchester Zoo have announced the death of one of its most famous residents.

Amur Tiger Igor, who had spent 15 years at the Maldon Road attraction, passed away on Wednesday following an illness.

The zoo's animal care team had been monitoring Igor due to a growth on his head, which was suspected to be a tumour.

After consulting with the zoo's veterinary team and following a biopsy, the decision was taken for Igor to undergo surgery.


However, during the procedure it became clear the tumour was inoperable and the decision was made to put him to sleep.

At 16-years-old he was in the later part of his expected lifespan and leaves behind his best friend, female Anoushka, who was just one-year his senior.

The pair have been together since Igor arrived at the zoo from Vienna Zoo in 2006 and have been described as inseparable, spending most of their lives side-by-side.

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A spokesman for the zoo said: "In more recent years, Igor had also come to know our other female Amur Tiger, Taiga, who joined us in 2017.

"In June 2019, Taiga gave birth to three cubs, fathered by Igor - two boys named Mischa and Pasha, and a female named Tatana.

"Igor’s personality traits live on in his cubs which is a comfort knowing his legacy lives on in these beautiful cats.

"Now 2-years-old, these young tigers will head out to other zoo collections in the hope of helping to increase the population of this endangered big cat species."

The animal care team will monitor the remaining tigers, especially Anoushka, as they adjust to life without their beloved male counterpart.

The spokesman added: "This is a very sad time for the Colchester Zoo staff as we say goodbye to an old friend who we will miss dearly and who has left big pawprints on our hearts."

Amur Tigers, native to Siberia, are considered endangered in the wild.