Alexandria Zoo grieves loss of beloved white tiger, Hannah
Thursday, September 9, 2021
It is with the saddest of hearts that Alexandria Zoo announces the passing of our beloved 18-year-old white tiger, Hannah. On Sunday, September 5, 2021, her health quickly deteriorated, and Hannah was humanely euthanized.
Over 10 months ago, Hannah was diagnosed with melanoma, a type of cancer, in the corner of her right eye. Two surgical procedures were performed over that time to reduce the size of the tumor. The location of Hannah’s tumor prevented complete surgical removal and made radiation therapy impossible. Typical survival time with this cancer in domestic cats is approximately 6 months, with complete surgical removal and radiation therapy. “We are very fortunate that Hannah survived as long as she did, and without any decrease in her quality of life,” said staff veterinarian Dr. Rebekah Riedel. “The seizure she experienced on Sunday was the first indication that her cancer had likely progressed. Knowing that there were no reasonable options to treat the cancer, the most important thing to us was to ensure she did not suffer.”
“Hannah has been one of the most iconic animals in the history of the Alexandria Zoo, and I am deeply saddened by her passing,” said Alexandria Mayor Jeffrey W. Hall. “I commend Dr. Riedel and the staff at the zoo for the outstanding care they provided since Hannah’s diagnosis, and for ensuring that she did not suffer and maintained the highest possible quality of life. I know I will miss seeing her interact with guests when I visit the zoo, and I am grateful for the 17 years she called Alexandria home.”
Former directors Les and Lee Ann Whitt brought Hannah to the Alexandria Zoo in December 2004 when she was almost two years old. Hannah became a fast guest favorite and an instant ambassador for all animal species. Hannah and Kumar lived together for many years delighting and connecting with visitors of all ages. When asked about the impact Hannah had Lee Ann Whitt said, “When Les Whitt made arrangements to acquire the two white tigers, I don’t think anyone could have imagined the impact these beautiful animals and their offspring would have on our staff, community and zoo visitors for almost 20 years. Their presence at the Alexandria Zoo promoted tiger conservation and enhanced appreciation of all wildlife. Hannah and Kumar will always be remembered as the most loved of all our ambassador animals. They, along with their offspring, touched the hearts of everyone who saw them.”
Hannah’s primary keeper, Becky Dentel, says that Hannah changed her life as both a keeper and a person. “I am so lucky and proud to have been Hannah’s keeper,” said Dentel. “It was such a privilege to have such a special relationship with such a special animal. Seeing her playful nature, hearing her chuff at me and spending time with her was something I truly loved and looked forward to every day. I will miss her beyond words and she will always have a special place in my heart.”
Hannah has been a connection for kids and adults alike from all parts of CenLa, and the legacy of Hannah and Kumar will live on at the Alexandria Zoo in all we do. Hannah loved to interact with guests, and she actively sought out play. Hannah would lay and wait for her fans to visit and shower her with adoration. “After 17 years of living with us at Alexandria Zoo, I will surely miss her fun-loving antics,” said General Curator Lisa Laskoski.
Zoo Director, Dr. Max Lakes, says that Hannah and Kumar’s memory will be instrumental in all things the zoo does moving forward. “Conservation, tiger breeding with the SSP, guest educational interpretation, and more will honor the most beloved of animals that have lived at the Alexandria Zoo, Hannah and Kumar,” said Dr. Lakes.