R.I.P. Namaste (1998-2014)

Namaste: Sept. 30, 1998 – Jan. 16, 2014 (Photo courtesy of County of Hawaii)

Hawaii 24/7 Staff

Namaste, a male white Bengal tiger that was the star attraction of the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens in Hilo for 15 years, was euthanized Thursday morning.

Over the past several weeks, Namaste developed multiple health problems that caused his quality of life to deteriorate, including hip dysplasia. He also reportedly suffered a broken leg in the last year.

Donated to the Panaewa Zoo in 1999 by Las Vegas magician Dirk Arthur, Namaste was 8 months old when he arrived on Hawaii Island and immediately became the zoo’s most popular resident.

For 15 years, Namaste’s daily afternoon feedings drew a crowd. His birthday parties each September attracted hundreds of attendees and featured entertainment by the county band, cake and ice cream.

The tiger typically received an “ice cake,” which included of frozen meat with bone “candles” and a turkey dinner, and a catnip-filled pillow.

Namaste lived in a one-acre enclosure in the zoo.

Namaste was buried Thursday in his enclosure, and the spot will soon be marked with a monument.

The zoo also has plans to welcome another tiger after making some renovations to the tiger habitat to accommodate a younger animal.

He was born Sept. 30, 1998.

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A young Namaste with Dirk Arthur, the Las Vegas magician who donated the white Bengal tiger to Panaewa Zoo. (Photo special to Hawaii 24/7 by Tim Wright)

Namaste at the Panaewa Zoo. Hawaii 24/7 File Photo