King Zulu, beloved white Bengal tiger at Audubon Zoo, dies

In an undated photo provided by the Audubon Nature Institute, King Zulu, a white Bengal tiger, sits in his enclosure at the Audobon Zoo in New Orleans. Officials with the Audubon Nature Institute said that the 20-year-old male tiger was euthanized Sunday, March 5, 2017, after a "steep decline in health." (Audubon Nature Institute via AP)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — King Zulu, the white Bengal tiger who mesmerized visitors to New Orleans’ Audubon Zoo for almost two decades, has died.

Officials with the Audubon Nature Institute said the 20-year-old male tiger was euthanized Sunday after a “steep decline in health.”

Zoo officials say King Zulu had been receiving hospice-style treatment. He was born at the Nashville Zoo in 1996 and had been with the Audubon since 1999. News of his death on Facebook drew more than 1,700 “sad” clicks.

Zoo curator Joe Forys says King Zulu loved interacting with staff and guests.

Experts say Bengal tigers in the wild can live up to 15 years; in human care, up to 20 years.

The Audubon Zoo is a popular tourist destination in New Orleans, with more than 800,000 visitors every year.

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