Update on Castro the Sumatran Tiger

The Sacramento Zoo’s male tiger, Castro, was diagnosed with lymphoma, a form of cancer, in February 2013. Over this past year he has been given chemotherapy and has been closely monitored and reevaluated at several points along the way. Monday, February 24th 2014 marked one year since Castro’s diagnosis and also included another exam.

“I'm pleased to say that he appears healthier now than he was a year ago when he was initially diagnosed,” said Dr. Ray Wack, head of the Murray E. Fowler Veterinary Hospital at the Sacramento Zoo.

The exam included a complete physical and extensive diagnostic testing to evaluate the status of his cancer and renal disease. The results of the exam showed a variety of things:
  • His overall body condition is good with no new abnormalities.
  • There are still some tumor cells in his spleen but it has not spread to his liver or lymph nodes.
  • Blood work shows that his chronic renal failure has progress slightly but is not severe at this time.
  • Veterinarians are also very pleased with his positive response to the stent that they placed from his kidney to his bladder during a procedure in October (to give Castro relief from kidney stones).
During the exam a miniature camera was placed in his stomach to look for signs of GI ulceration (a potential complication from chemotherapy) and possible spread of his cancer to his intestines. The camera has been recovered and veterinarians are awaiting processing of the images.
Castro is continuing to receive oral chemotherapy along with an appetite stimulant and medications to support his liver function and prevent gastric ulcers. While Castro remains a picky eater his zookeepers have done an extraordinary job tempting him with treats, getting him to take his medicine and helping him gain 40 pounds!
The fact that Castro is doing well a year after his diagnosis is a testament to the great care he is receiving from everyone. All of us at the Zoo are greatly appreciative of the outpouring of community support for our beloved tiger.

Castro on February 27, 2014

During the exam with visitors watching.

The small camera capsule (shown in the protective packaging)

Veterinary team during Castro's exam.

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