Tiger from Greece dies at sanctuary east of San Diego

Phevos, a tiger brought from Greece to a sanctuary east of San Diego amid international concern that it was being neglected at a zoo outside Athens, has died.

The 17-year-old male tiger was euthanized after weeks of a slow, painful decline that veterinarians at the Lions Tigers & Bears sanctuary in Alpine were unable to arrest, according to a statement released Friday.

"He had progressively shown signs of pain and became increasingly withdrawn from his normal interests and activities," said Jane Meier, the sanctuary's lead veterinarian. "His appetite had steadily decreased, making our abilities to provide pain medication difficult."

Phevos was brought to Lions Tigers & Bears in December after an airlift that took 20 hours. The trip was financed by a British animal-care activist alarmed at reports of Phevos' condition and the death of another tiger at the same zoo.

The BBC, before the airlift, referred to Phevos as "the latest victim of Greece's economic crisis" because the government could not afford to provide adequate care at the zoo. The other tiger at the same zoo died of a wound on its paw that had gone untreated for months.

"This tiger has been living in deplorable conditions for years," Bobbi Brink, founder of Lions Tigers & Bears, said of Phevos upon his arrival in December.

Phevos and five other tigers had been part of a traveling circus from Italy when they were seized by Greek officials in 2002 because the circus lacked appropriate documentation.

The BBC story about Phevos was headlined, "The tiger who flew halfway across the world for a better life." The name Phevos comes from a kind of nickname for Apollo, the Greek god.

In announcing Phevos' death, Brink said this: "He fought a long and hard battle in this lifetime and had been through so much. I am honored to have been able to provide him with compassionate care."

A memorial for Phevos is scheduled for Oct. 3 at the sanctuary, 40 miles east of San Diego.

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