Castro the Tiger has Surgery

On Tuesday October 8th Castro, the Zoo’s 15-year-old Sumatran Tiger, underwent a minimally-invasive surgery. The purpose was to provide Castro with relief from obstructions caused by urinary tract stones, the clinicians inserted a ureteral stents — thin, flexible tubes that will help drain urine from the kidney to the bladder. The procedure took four hours and included over 30 veterinarians, physicians, residents, technicians and students.

Castro is also undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma; during the procedure, his response to the treatment was also evaluated. In total, veterinarians and doctors placed the ureteral stent, evaluated his response to chemotherapy, assessed the current status of his lymphoma and collected numerous samples to help individually tailor his therapy. Preliminary results show that Castro is responding favorably to the chemotherapy.

Within two hours of being brought back into his den Castro was up and walking around his enclosure. He will be closely observed for any signs of complications. At this point it appears the four hour episode was very successful. Through a collaborative effort with the community, this procedure that would normally cost about $10,000 was performed at a cost of about $2,000. The procedure included veterinarians from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and the Sacramento Zoo as well as human health care providers from Sutter Medical Group. Representatives from GE OEC, Karl Storz Endoscopy and Infiniti Medical also contributed towards making this treatment possible.

Castro has lived at the Sacramento Zoo since 1999. Since then, has fathered five living offspring, including CJ, a cub born in March at the zoo. He was diagnosed with lymphoma, a form of cancer, earlier this year and is being treated with chemotherapy drugs.

Sumatran Tigers are critically endangered and found only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, off the Malaysian Peninsula. Fewer than 500 Sumatran Tigers are believed to exist in the wild, and approximately 200 live in zoos around the world. The Sacramento Zoo participates in the Sumatran Tiger Species Survival Plan®, coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. These are cooperative breeding and conservation programs, designed to maintain genetically viable populations of animals in captivity and to organize zoo- and aquarium-based efforts to preserve the species in nature.

All of us at the Zoo are greatly appreciative of the outpouring of community support for our beloved tiger.

Sacramento Bee Article, published October 9, 2013

Sacramento Bee Photo Gallery, published October 9, 2013

Davis Enterprise, published October 9, 2013

Photo by Erik Bowker
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