Rare Sumatran Tiger Dies at Indonesia's 'Death Zoo'

The male tiger named Rama died of heart failure at a notorious zoo where hundreds of animals have perished in recent years.

A critically endangered Sumatran tiger has died at a notorious Indonesian zoo where hundreds of animals have perished in recent years, an official said Wednesday.

The male tiger, named Rama, died of heart failure at the zoo in the city of Surabaya, on the main island of Java, spokeswoman Veronika Lanu told AFP.

It has been dubbed the "death zoo" as so many animals have died there prematurely because of neglect - including several orangutans, a tiger and a giraffe.

PHOTOS: An Intimate Look At Tigers

Lanu defended the zoo after Rama's death, insisting proper procedures had been followed.

"The death was due to natural causes, we provided the best care we could," she said.

Rama, who was born in the zoo and lived there all his life, died on April 10.

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The 16-year-old animal had serious problems with its teeth, had a bad cough and appeared lethargic in the weeks before his death.

Campaigners have criticised the zoo - built a century ago during Dutch colonial rule - for keeping animals in overcrowded cages and enclosures, which are often filthy and in a state of disrepair.

Following his death, it now has only three male Sumatran tigers and six females left.

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The management of Surabaya zoo, Indonesia's largest, has been taken over by the city administration, but the deaths have not stopped and animal welfare groups continue to call for its closure.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies the Sumatran tiger as an endangered species.

There are fewer than 400 remaining in the wild, all on Indonesia's main western island of Sumatra, according to environmental group WWF.

The creatures are under threat due to destruction of their rainforest habitat to make way for palm oil plantations and poaching.

A Sumatran tiger sits inside an enclosure in Surabaya Zoo in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia, on April 25, 2012.

For his new book "

Tigers Forever

," photographer Steve Winter traveled to India, Sumatra, Myanmar and Thailand capturing one of the most endangered big cats in the world. Fewer than 3,200 tigers remain in the wild -- down from about 100,000 a century ago. Above, a male tiger crosses open grasslands in early morning.

Tigers are usually solitary animals: Except for a mother and her cubs, tigers live and hunt alone, coming together only to mate or occasionally to share a kill.

A male tiger in Bandhavgarh National Park, India

Tigers scratch, spray, scrape, rub, roll, and roar to mark boundaries or advertise their presence, all to find a mate -- or avoid surprise encounters that could prove fatal.

A tiger peers at a camera trap it triggered while night hunting in the forests of northern Sumatra, Indonesia.

Tourists at the Tiger Temple view a “tiger enrichment” show. Young tigers entertain tourists daily, but adults rarely leave tiny, decrepit cages and are often beaten.

This 14-month-old cub, cooling off in a pond, is riveted by a deer that appeared near the shore. Tigers are powerful swimmers; they can easily cross rivers 4 to 5 miles wide and have been known to swim distances of up to 18 miles.

A 10-month-old cub yawns, midday. Tigers are essentially nocturnal, most active from dusk to dawn, and tend to sleep during the heat of the day.

A wary 3-month-old cub briefly investigates the photographer's intrusion before ducking behind his mother. This tigress gave birth in the same remote cave where she was born.

A portion of the book’s proceeds will benefit partner organization

Panthera’s Tigers Forever