Zoo’s beloved Salt passes
The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo has lost one of its most treasured and popular animals. Salt, the 17-year-old female Amur (Siberian) tiger was euthanized in January, most likely of spinal cord disease. Zoo Curator Cyndi Johnson and many of the zookeepers who cared for Salt during her later years were also with her when she passed. “She will forever live on in our hearts and memories,” said zoo director/veterinarian Dr. Adam Langston
Salt and her sister Pepper (who passed away in 2015) were hand-raised from the age of six months old by then Head Zookeeper Cyndi Johnson who was particularly hard-hit by the loss of this tiger. “Salty was my first tiger and the one that significantly inspired my passion for big cats,” said Johnson. “She truly was a special cat and my heart was stolen from the sound of her very first chuff. Every animal we lose affects me deeply, but Salt’s passing has left me completely heartbroken.”
Salt was frequently featured, along with Pepper, on the Animal Planet documentary series, The Little Zoo That Could, about the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo’s hurricane survival story. Viewers witnessed Johnson’s extraordinary bond with these two beautiful tigers and how integral they were in bringing much needed attention to the zoo’s comeback after its destruction by Hurricane Ivan. The first large animals a visitor would see upon entering the zoo grounds, these sisters became known for their outgoing personalities, humorous bickering, and playful antics, attracting fans of every age.
“It’s a very difficult time when you lose a loved one. For almost 17 years I had the privilege of Salt’s guardianship,” said former longtime Zoo Director Patti Hall, now Director Emeritus.
“From the day she and her sister Pepper arrived, they had everyone’s heart. They also became stars on our TV series and people came from all over the world to see them. It was really mind-blowing how much they were adored. Cyndi did an exemplary job in rearing “The Sisters” and Salt will never be forgotten by the millions of zoo fans who experienced this wonderful tiger, nor by the zookeepers who were dedicated to her care.”