CASWELL COUNTY, N.C. — The Conservators Center family is mourning the death of Arthur after the white tiger choked to death last Thursday, according to an announcement.
"We are heartbroken to announce that yesterday we said goodbye to Arthur Tiger," the Conservators Center said Friday. "We are devastated by this tragic and unexpected loss. Arthur was a beloved and charismatic resident here at the Center, and we are forever thankful for the more than ten years that we were able to provide him a loving home."
According to the zoo, keeping staff was feeding Arthur boneless pieces of meat during a routine training session on March 28 when the tiger began to choke.
Arthur tried to cough up the obstruction but ended up losing consciousness.
"Our personnel attempted everything possible to save Arthur, but were unable to revive him," the Conservators Center said.
Arthur first came to the zoo at 3 months old. He weighed 19 pounds, a severely low weight for a young tiger.
The white tiger moved into his new home near Kira, a disabled lioness, and the two became unlikely friends, according to the center.
When Kira was young at a different facility, her father accidentally stepped on her hips causing the lioness' disability.
The two bonded across the enclosure wall until the zoo thought they were ready to move in together.
"They acted as ‘physical therapists’ for each other — the exercise improved Arthur’s appetite and helped Kira build muscle mass in her hips," the zoo said.
Their story ended up inspiring a children's book.
"As we all adjust to life at the Center without Arthur, we will be doing all we can to help Kira adjust as well," the Conservators Center said. "We’ve reached out to the people who spend the most time with her, and they will be visiting her often and showering her with attention and affection."