Our hearts are heavy as we mourn the loss of Castro the Sumatran Tiger who was diagnosed with lymphoma in February 2013. Castro, age 16 1/2, exceeded the life expectancy, becoming the longest living large cat diagnosed with that form of cancer and was the oldest breeding male Sumatran tiger in the United States.
“Castro has been an incredible tiger and we have been privileged to care for him. We are extremely thankful to all of the specialists from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and the Sacramento Medical community which have rallied to assist us in providing Castro with a long comfortable life,” commented Dr. Ray Wack, Senior Veterinarian at the Sacramento Zoo.
Since his lymphoma diagnosis in February 2013, Castro has been receiving oral chemotherapy every day while being closely monitored by veterinarians and zookeepers. While on treatment, Castro regained the weight he had lost and became more active again. His chemotherapy controlled his cancer and maintained a good quality of life. In October 2013, with a great outpouring of help from the medical community, Castro underwent a minimally-invasive surgery providing relief from partial obstruction near his kidney, caused by urinary tract stones.
In February 2014 Castro received a complete physical and extensive diagnostic testing to evaluate the status of his cancer and renal disease. During the exam a miniature camera was placed in his stomach to look for signs of GI ulceration (a potential complication from the chemotherapy). Test results and Castro’s behavior at that time indicated that his cancer was adequately controlled and his chronic kidney disease was stable.
Recently, Castro’s appetite began to decline. Staff has worked diligently to maintain his appetite and weight, enticing him to eat with a multitude of extra-special foods and adding additional medications to stimulate his appetite and minimize his nausea. Sadly, Castro’s condition has deteriorated and the Zoo’s veterinary and animal care teams made the difficult decision to euthanize him.
"Castro has always been one of our favorite cats. He’s been challenging and stubborn at times but these are also traits that we've loved about him. It often made us laugh when he had to readjust his toys or furniture to just the way he liked it," said carnivore Zookeeper Amanda Watters. "I am so glad I had the privilege of taking care of him and getting to know him. He was an incredible animal and ambassador for his species who was a favorite of both staff and visitors."
Castro came to the Sacramento Zoo from the Audubon Zoo with his mother in 1999. He and his female companion Bahagia have five living offspring who went to other Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) zoos to participate in Sumatran Tiger Species Survival Plans® (SSP). Those five offspring have produced five cubs to date. Castro and Bahagia’s last cub, Castro Jr., more commonly known as CJ, recently went to the Los Angeles Zoo as part of the SSP recommended plan.
Sumatran Tigers are critically endangered and found only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Fewer than 500 Sumatran Tigers are believed to exist in the wild and approximately 200 live in zoos around the world. The Zoo participates in the Sumatran Tiger SSPs – 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.
|Castro the Sumatran Tiger. Photo by Mike Owyang.|