An extremely rare Amur tiger -- one of only about 500 left on the planet -- died after suffering what zoo officials called a "freak accident" when she received a dose of anesthesia and suffered a fatal spinal injury when she fell off a bench.
The tragedy happened last Friday at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo -- approximately six miles south of downtown Colorado Springs, Colorado -- when Mila, a 2-year-old female Amur tiger, was given a dose of anesthesia in preparation for an upcoming dental procedure and she "jumped up on a bench where she began to lay down and peacefully let the anesthetic drugs take effect," officials from the zoo said in their statement announcing her death on Tuesday.
But less than a minute after lying down, Mila slipped off the bench she was on, which officials said was only waist-high, and suffered what would be a fatal spinal injury.
"It was impossible from a human safety standpoint to stop her tragic fall," the zoo said in their statement.
"She could have slid off from that height a hundred times and landed in a variety of other positions and been unaffected," said Dr. Eric Klaphake, CMZoo head veterinarian. "The team quickly entered her den when it was safe and diligently tried for 40 minutes to give her life-saving care."