BOSTON – Tough week for fans of captive wild animals in New England. First Beulah, now Luther.
For many zoos in New England, the inclusion of a white tiger often seems to be a point of interest for travelers, tourists, and residents alike. In York, Maine, there is a white tiger at the local York's Wild Kingdom and it has become something of a pseudo-symbol for the town and definitely the logo for the park, as a whole. White tigers seem to attract quite the public following. Unfortunately, the most iconic of this bunch recently died.
Yes, it is very sad news, but Luther, the famous white tiger at Boston's Franklin Park Zoo, passed away on September 20 at the age of fourteen after a short bout of cancer. The cancer was first recognized in Luther when he was diagnosed with a round cell tumor. When the medication no longer seemed to be helping, the medical team at the zoo made the decision to euthanize Luther so as to end his suffering. It was certainly not an easy decision to make, but it was still a heartbreaking one all the same.
In a statement from Franklin Park Zoo, they remembered Luther by saying, "Zookeepers have many fond memories of Luther through the years. When he was younger, he enjoyed tearing apart cardboard boxes and playing with seasonal enrichment on exhibit, especially pumpkins. As he got older, one of his favorite things to do was to rub against a log sprinkled with his favorite scent – ground cloves." It makes me sad to think that Luther might have just missed pumpkin season. Hopefully, they gave him one last gourd.
I have a lot of complicated feelings towards the practices of zoos, but it seems like the care-taking process that came with Luther was one that was conducted with the best of intentions. White tigers frequently suffer from health problems and with Luther coming to the zoo in 2006, they wanted to try to sustain a high quality life for him, while educating others about illegal trafficking of wild animals.
Luther, RIP. You're a Boston legend. And you won't ever be forgotten!