CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — Rocky, the Siberian tiger at the Cape May County Zoo, died over the weekend.

The 16-year-old tiger began to have difficulty walking last week, the latest medical challenge for Rocky, who was born at Jackson's Six Flags Great Adventure in 2001.

"After through examinations, it was determined that the combined effects of a degenerative condition in his spine, osteoarthritis in his hips, and complications from the multiple surgeries in his right hind leg were greatly impacting his quality of life, and the difficult decision was made to euthanize him," a statement from the Zoo said.

Rocky also survived a battle with cancer in 2014, with treatment that included chemotherapy and several surgeries.

He was buried in the zoo's courtyard next to Numar, the zoo's late lion.

Cape May County Freeholder E. Marie Hayes, in a statement to the Cape May County Herald, called Rocky a "rock star" and the zoo's resident celebrity.

"We were very saddened to hear of his passing. Rocky was a wonderful tiger and an incredible ambassador for his species. America grew to know and love him as a cub, as his story of survival was shared on national and local news," Six Flags spokeswiman Kristin Siebeneicher said in statement."Our animal care team was in contact with Cape May's team throughout his life, and we know he was very well cared for by the staff, and adored by staff and guests alike. Rocky will never be forgotten."

"He was a magnificent animal that delighted visitors to the Zoo from the time he arrived until his passing. Rocky, and all the other species that are part of the AZA Species Survival Plan (SSP), are an important part of the research to learn more about the habits and behavior of endangered species and aid in the recovery. He will be missed by all."

Zoo visitors also expressed their condolences at the loss of Rocky.

"What a loss ... I'm so sorry to hear about Rocky. He was a beauty," Debbie Levi May commented on the Cape May Government Facebook page.

Katie Mooney commented, "We were just there a few weeks ago and my 1-year-old loved seeing Rocky. I'm glad we got to see him one last time. RIP."

"Poor Rocky. May he be at peace and his image generate many conservation efforts for years to come. RIP Rocky," wrote Marie Brady Hempsey.

The zoo plans to use Rocky as the face of its future conservation efforts.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at

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