Beloved tiger at Cape May County Zoo passes away

The Cape May County Zoo announced 'Rocky' their beloved Siberian Tiger passed away on Saturday,.

Freeholder E. Marie Hayes, who oversees the Park and Zoo released a statement late Saturday afternoon on the passing of the tiger:

Rocky was a rock star and held celebrity status at the Zoo for many years. He was a magnificent animal that delighted visitors to the Zoo from the time he arrived until his passing. Rocky, and all the other species that are part of the AZA Species Survival Plan (SSP), are an important part of the research to learn more about the habits and behavior of endangered species and aid in the recovery. He will be missed by all."

He was born at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey, in 2001. According to the zoo, he was born small and weak and his mother, sensing a weak cub, refused to take care of him. 'Rocky' had to be hand-raised by veterinary staff. He came to the Cape May County Zoo in April 2002. At six weeks, he became an "Animal Ambassador" because of his story.

'Rocky' battled cancer in 2014 and recovered. Sadly, later in life he had difficulties with his hips and hind legs. He underwent surgeries on his legs, which only added to the issues. On Saturday, he was euthanized after failure of his hind legs due to the combined effects of a degenerative condition in his spine, osteoarthritis in his hips and complications from the multiple surgeries in his right hind leg, according to the zoo.

'Rocky' was buried in the Zoo Courtyard next to Numar the Lion.

The zoo says 'Rocky' will continue to be the face of this county's ongoing efforts in wildlife conservation. Donations in Rocky's name will be accepted for the care of endangered species that are housed at the Cape May County Zoo.