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Sumatran Tiger Undergoes Chemotherapy Threatment

SACRAMENTO-

Things are looking better for Castro, the Sumatran Tiger who was diagnosed with cancer 5 months ago.

He was given chemotherapy and was examined for the first time by vets.  He had to be drugged during the one- hour exam in which biopsies and ultrasounds were performed.

A team of half a dozen veterinarians and veterinary students worked on Castro quickly because wild animals don’t take anesthesia well.

“Everybody was aware of what everyone else was doing, so we could get finished in a minimum amount of time,” said Sacramento City Zoo veterinarian Ray Wack said.

The prognosis was not good for the 15-year-old tiger because he is approaching his normal life span, but preliminary results were encouraging.

“His massively enlarged spleen has reduced in size and it appears the chemotherapy is working,” said Wack.

More complete results will be ready in several weeks.

There isn’t a cure.  Realistically given Castro’s age, the goal is more modest.

“Provide him with a couple of years of high quality life,” said Wack.

Castro is the oldest living breeding Sumatran Tiger in captivity and has been productive in propagating his species.  He has sired half a dozen cubs including 4 month old Castro Jr. who is on display at the zoo.

There are just 200 Sumatran Tigers in captivity and about 500 left in the wild.

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