tang tiger esso
'Tango' the tiger was featured in the famous Esso fuel adverts during the 1990s PA

A tiger which starred in the famous Esso "Put a Tiger in Your Tank" adverts has died two years after a wildlife charity paid £250,000 to have it rescued for being mistreated at a German circus. Tango, thought to be Britain's oldest tiger, was one of several big cats to appear in the ads during the 1990s.

He died of old age, aged 22, over the weekend at Woodside Wildlife Park in Lincolnshire.

The park has received almost 1,000 messages of sympathy on its Facebook page since announcing the death.

Park director Neil Mumby said: "A normal age for a tiger to reach would be approximately 15 – so at 22 he was over 100 years old in human terms.

"He had an extremely good innings but he had a mixed life in his circus time on the continent. We were happy to give him a good, peaceful retirement for two-and-a-half years – we have seen him chasing butterflies, swimming and behaving like a tiger deserves to."

The park rescued Tango from death in 2014 after a six-month campaign raised £250,000 from the public to prevent the animal and his female tiger partner, Julia, being destroyed by the Belgian authorities. The two tigers had been seized from a circus in Germany where they were said to have been mistreated.

Mumby had said at the time of the campaign the cost for the two tigers was worth it, with their arrival intended to raise the profile of the park. Julia remains at the enclosure.

He added: "From my point of view, we are extremely proud to have given him his retirement."

Esso first used an image of a tiger in its ads following the end of rationing after the Second World War, and the long-running "Put a Tiger in Your Tank" campaign is regarded as one of the most successful in advertising history.