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UC Davis Veterinarians Help Perform Surgery on Tiger from Sacramento Zoo

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Dr. Ray Wack (second from left) and team worked together to provide Castro, a rare Sumatran tiger at the Sacramento Zoo, with a stent to prevent stone blockages.

October 8, 2013 - A group of more than 30 veterinarians, physicians, technicians, students and administrators from the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, the Sacramento Zoo and Sutter Medical Group joined forces to perform a minimally-invasive surgery on Castro, a 15-year-old Sumatran tiger from the zoo. To prevent stone blockage and any potential pain, the veterinarians and physicians placed a ureteral stent – a thin, flexible tube that will help drain urine from the kidney to the bladder. 

Castro was anesthetized in his habitat shortly after 8:30 a.m. and transported a short distance to the veterinary hospital on the grounds of the zoo. The procedure began at approximately 9 a.m. While Castro was anesthetized, doctors took advantage of that time to also perform an abdominal ultrasound and draw blood to see how he is responding to his lymphoma treatment, which he began earlier this year. UC Davis oncologists were initially encouraged by the ultrasound images. Blood samples were sent to UC Davis veterinary pathologists for further, conclusive results.

To place the stent, the team was able to use a minimally-invasive method of cystoscopy, a scoping procedure for imaging the inside of the urinary tract, and interventional radiology techniques. They were able to place a small stent through the right kidney, down the ureter and into Castro’s bladder. To our knowledge, this is the first time that this procedure has been performed on a tiger. This stent will relieve the partial obstruction of the ureter. After more than three hours, the team concluded the successful surgery at 12:45 p.m. Veterinarians and physicians alike were pleased with the results of the surgery. Castro was returned to his habitat, where he will rest for the next 48 hours until he can be viewed again by zoo visitors.

UC Davis and the Sacramento Zoo are grateful for generous donations of equipment for this procedure from GE OEC Medical Systems, Karl Storz Endoscopy, Infiniti Medical and Stille Operating Tables.

Rob Warren
VMTH Communications & Marketing Officer