FOR 19 years she has been one of Spain’s most loved icons.

Hundred of thousands of people have gazed at the awe-inspiring sight of the beauty and power of Asmara the Sumatran tigress as she padded round her enclosure at Fuengirola’s Biopark zoo.

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SADLY MISSED: Asmara, left, with long-term partner Rokan. CREDIT: All pictures courtesy Bioparc Fuengirola.

But children will no longer be able to press themselves against the glass screen that was all that separated them from the terrifying yet beautiful vision of the jungle queen.

At the age of 19 the oldest feline resident of the wildlife attraction – and third oldest Sumatran Tiger in a world-wide breeding programme – has passed away.

Asmara is part of the fifth generation in the European conservation programme for the Sumatran tiger, one of EAZA’s European Association of Zoos and Aquaria oldest conservation programmes.

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MAGNIFICENT: Asmara thrilled the crowds with her power and grace for 19 years.

She herself had several cubs with long term partner Rokan – who passed away two years ago – helping save this highly endangered species from extinction.

According to Bioparc’s vet, Jesús Recuero, “Asmara has shown us what the character of a tiger is like: firm and confident in front of her fellow tigers, while at the same time she was relaxed and confident in the presence of her usual caretakers.”

In 2014, at the age of 15, she was diagnosed with chronic kidney failure, a very common degenerative disease in older cats.

The Bioparc team was not discouraged and pampered and cared for her in the following years.

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CANCER: Tests proved Asmara did not die of Covid-19.

Asmara continued to bring smiles, admiration and fulfilled dreams for professionals and visitors, children and adults alike. 

But just four weeks ago her carers saw a dramatic change in her behaviour. Tests spotted a tumour very close to the heart, a condition that led to her death during the night of April 18.

The sad news was withheld while a post mortem was carried out. Bioparc wanted to make sure that she was not a victim of coronavirus – a diagnosis which could have had a major impact on the way they cared for the zoo’s remaining two tigers, female Kerinei and her partner Harau.

Several big cats in zoos around the world have been found to have the virus.But her tests came back negative. It was the cancer that led to her death.

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