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| Columns |

Carlita, Zoo Miami's White Tiger and Most Memorable Creature, Is Dead

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The single animal that Miami kids grew up with is gone.

White tiger Carlita, who was born in 1992 and moved to the zoo in 1994, was euthanized after a lengthy illness. She is irreplaceable.

Carlita had replaced another tiger, Lucknow, who killed a trainer that same year.

Carlita far outlived her life expectancy of 12 years and had entertained zoo-goers for years. Her two partners, the typically colored Lyric and Roshe, both died years ago.

White Bengal tigershave been difficult to breed and there are few left in zoos, so she will likely not be replaced by another white tiger, says zoo spokesman Ron Magill.

Carlita was the zoo's most memorable animal. She was almost the first thing visitors saw after entering, (yeah, there are those stinky flamingos, but do they really count?) and she was an icon we all counted on.

My kids grew up with Carlita, spent nights at zoo sleepovers not far from her, and fawned over her when they were tiny. Even if they don't like to admit it now that they are older, her death has left us all missing an important part of our lives. She was one of the few things that bound together our wildly diverse city -- one of the few things we really share.

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