VALLEJO, Calif. (KTVU) - Workers at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo are mourning the loss of a longtime and beloved member of their family.
The park announced that its white Bengal tiger named Odin died on Monday, saying that they shared the news with a "heavy heart." He was just shy of his 18th birthday.
"The difficult decision was made to humanely euthanize Odin in consideration of his age and declining health," park officials told KTVU.
The tiger was a fixture of the park and gained international attention for his skills as a big cat who loved to swim and dive underwater, according to Six Flags officials.
"Odin has been a treasured member of the Discovery Kingdom family since his birth in 2001 and quickly became a favorite among park guests and staff alike," Six Flags wrote in a Facebook post.
The park said Odin lived out the end of his days peacefully and doing what he loved best. "He spent his final years laying in the sun, taking cat naps and of course, enjoying his favorite activity of cooling off in the pool," officials shared.
Odin had been retired from animal attraction shows, but he still roamed Tiger Island, where the park's Siberian and Bengal tigers are housed.
On its website, Discovery Kingdom noted that while its tiger name Kuma was its first big cat diver, it was Odin who went on to perfect the feat. Officials described how he instinctively folded down his ears and closed his nostrils when he dove, which allowed him to stay under water for an extended period of time as he searched for meat that was tossed into the pool.
Bengal tigers are endangered. On average, their lifespan in the wild is eight to 10 years. In captivity, they can live much longer -- up to 18 to 20 years, due to the regular supply of food, consistent medical care and protection from the natural threats they would face in the wild.
The park said Odin's absence would be deeply felt not only by its staff but by all of the park's visitors who got to meet the beautiful, majestic creature, whom they said served as a wonderful ambassador for the park.
"Odin will be greatly missed by his caregivers and the millions of guests whose lives were touched by this amazing tiger," officials said.