Salt, the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo's Tiger has died
By the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo
January 17, 2019 - Gulf Shores, AL - (OBA®) - 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 January 6 at 3:45 p.m. According to Zoo Director Dr. Adam Langston, also the zoo veterinarian, “While we await a final pathology report, Salt suffered from severe hindlimb weakness most likely caused by a spinal cord disease. For the last several months, as her walking became more labored, medications were administered to improved her quality of life, but sadly her condition worsened beyond help. The difficult decision was made to end her suffering.” Zoo Curator Cyndi Johnson and many of the zookeepers who cared for Salt during her later years were also with her when she passed. Said Dr. Langston, “She will forever live on in our hearts and memories.”
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.”
The Amur tiger, also known as the Siberian tiger, is an endangered species with approximately 500 remaining in the wild, mostly in the provinces of the Russian Far East where they are legally protected. With about that same number in captivity around the world, Salt and Pepper also provided the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo with the opportunity to share important educational information about this rare species. Because of its “little zoo” environment, closer proximity to these magnificent cats allowed children to more easily learn about their characteristics and behavior, while also enjoying their unique personalities.
Zookeeper Rachel Gulley attested to Salt’s special qualities, “She was one of the most charismatic animals I have ever been privileged to work with. She loved her keepers, offering a welcoming chuff and bright, beautiful eyes to greet you. She was playful and loved attention, often showing off for her keepers and guests by playing in her pool and sunbathing in the grass. Salt was an inspiration to our visitors to care about our natural world and the natural beauty that are Siberian Tigers. Salt was truly one of a kind.”
If you would like to make a donation in remembrance of Salt, all collected funds will go toward the BIG CAT CANYON habitat at the new zoo.
Please notate your tax-free contribution as “In Memory of Salt” with your check, cash or credit card transaction.
For more information, please call our Gift Shop at (251) 968-5732 or visit to make a donation online.