7th big cat dies at Wylie sanctuary - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

7th big cat dies at Wylie sanctuary

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Tacoma Tacoma

A tiger described as the "soul" of a North Texas animal sanctuary has become the seventh big cat to die from an outbreak of a fatal virus.

Spokeswoman Lisa Williams for In-Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue and Education Center in Wylie said Tacoma died Sunday night. He was a 15-year-old Siberian tiger who weighed in excess of 400 pounds.

In all six tigers and one lioness have died because of canine distemper. More than a dozen other big cats are still suffering from the virus.

Experts believe raccoons started the outbreak by crawling around the large outdoor cages. Animal wildlife workers said they're gathering data about the disease and turning it over to universities for research.

Williams says the death of Tacoma is particularly difficult because he had been with the sanctuary for more than a dozen years.

She reminded people that the doors are still open for visitors and donations needed to help care for and treat the remaining sick cats.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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