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Phoenix Zoo tiger diagnosed with chronic kidney disease

Jai the Sumatran tiger was recently diagnosed with chronic kidney disease after his eating habits changed and he started losing weight.

PHOENIX — Jai the Sumatran tiger has lived at the Phoenix Zoo for 16 years but now he's not doing so well. The 17-year-old tiger has been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease. 

Jai was recently examined by the zoo's veterinarians after he started drinking more water than usual and eating less, resulting in weight loss, zoo officials said. 

"We are continuing to monitor Jai closely and hope his appetite may increase by offering him some special items to encourage him to eat," said Dr. Gary West, senior vice president of animal health at the Phoenix Zoo. "Unfortunately, renal disease and ultimately renal failure is common in big cats and there is no cure."

Jai is also being treated for a secondary infection related to the disease.

Zoo staff said chronic kidney disease is common in domestic and non-domestic cat species, forming over a period of months or even years. 

Studies in Australian zoos showed that in 2018, Sumatran tigers had the highest percentage of kidney disease-related deaths (75%) among other cat species in the facilities. 

Kidney disease is one of the most common causes of deaths in tigers. The median life expectancy for Sumatran tigers is 18.4 years of age, the zoo reported.

Jai has been at the Phoenix Zoo since 2005 after being transferred from his birthplace at the Louisville Zoo. 

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