Alexandria Zoo’s 18-year-old white tiger Hannah diagnosed with melanoma

Published: Jun. 14, 2021 at 3:09 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 4:46 PM CDT
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The following was released to us by the City of Alexandria:

ALEXANDRIA, La. - With a sad and heavy heart, officials with the Alexandria Zoo report that its 18-year-old white tiger, Hannah, has been diagnosed with melanoma.

“Unfortunately, there is no curative therapy available for this cancer,” said Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Rebekah Riedel. “Due to the location of Hannah’s tumor at the corner of her eye, the aggressive nature of this type of neoplasia, and the inherent risks of her age and species, chemotherapy and radiation are not appropriate for her. Although complete removal is not possible, surgery is planned to reduce the size of her tumor and ensure her ongoing comfort.”

Hannah’s health and well-being are being closely monitored, and, at this time, her condition is stable.

“Hannah, as well as Kumar who passed away last year, has been an iconic representative of our zoo since she arrived in 2004,” said Alexandria Mayor Jeffrey W. Hall. “I love all of the animals at the zoo, but Hannah definitely stood out not just because of her unusual coloring, but her active and playful nature. I know she has been a guest favorite for years, and I am deeply saddened to learn of her illness. I know the staff will do everything they can to care for her.”

Hannah came to the Alexandria Zoo on May 6, 2004, as a year-and-a-half young tiger. The longevity of the zoo’s many elderly animals is a testament to the exceptional veterinary and animal care they receive. Officials said Hannah will continue to live her best life at the zoo as long as her quality of life is acceptable and she is not in pain.

“I’ve enjoyed watching Hannah mature over these past 17 years,” said General Curator Lisa Laskoski. “Hannah’s wonderful personality enhances every day even if I only get to pass by her habitat briefly. Working in a zoo, we understand the inevitability of many of our residents having shorter lifespans than us, but we will continue to love and care for Hannah until her last day.”

“Hannah holds a special place in my heart,” said her zookeeper, Becky Dentel. “Being her keeper is an amazing experience. Every day I look forward to spending time with her; she has such a sweet and playful personality. Whenever I hear her chuffing (the tiger equivalent of a cat’s purr) to me, it always brings a smile to my face. It’s been an honor and a privilege to have such a special relationship with such a special animal. I will miss Hannah tremendously when she’s gone.”

Zoo workers are quick to note Hannah’s amazing personality and that she is loved by guests and keepers alike. She is described as easy to work with and they say she quickly steals the heart of anyone that spends a little time with her. “Hannah captured my heart within days of coming to work at the Alexandria Zoo,” said Zoo Director Dr. Max Lakes. “My affection for her has only increased with the more time I have been able to spend with her and see her amazing personality shine. Hannah will be a heavy loss for the Alexandria Zoo staff and for the community.”

Alexandria Zoo is committed to the conservation of tigers, Lakes said, adding the zoo will continue to be involved with the Species Survival Plan for Malayan tigers.

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