Castro, the Sacramento Zoo’s Sumatran Tiger, Continues to Improve

UC Davis veterinarians perform an ultrasound examination on Castro’s abdomen.

On February 24, 2014, a complete physical examination was conducted on Castro, the Sacramento Zoo’s Sumatran tiger, one year to the day from his lymphoma diagnosis and nearly five months from his surgery to place a ureteral stent. He continues to improve and appears healthier now a year later. At the exam, Castro underwent extensive diagnostic testing to evaluate the status of his cancer and renal disease. A team of seven veterinarians, two technicians, one hospital assistant and many skilled keepers were assembled from the zoo’s Murray E. Fowler Veterinary Hospital and the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital to make the exam as efficient as possible.

Castro’s weight improved to 120 kilograms (264 pounds) compared to 102 kilograms (224 pounds) a year ago. The physical exam found him to be in good condition with no new abnormalities. In looking at his lymphoma (cancer), ultrasound examination of his abdomen did not find any tumors in his liver, and found his spleen remains normal sized. Aspirates of his liver and spleen still showed tumor cells in his spleen, but that it has not spread to his liver or lymph nodes.

Radiographs and ultrasound of his kidneys and bladder show that Castro’s ureteral stent is still in place with no grossly visible complications. In fact, the ureter around the stent has returned to normal size. Blood work shows that his chronic renal failure has progressed slightly but is not severe at this time.

“We are very pleased with the results of this exam,” said Dr. Bill Culp, a soft tissue surgeon and interventional radiologist at the VMTH, who placed the stent. “His stent is still located in the correct position, and Castro seems to have responded well to the treatment.”

Castro continues to receive chemotherapy, as well as medications to support his liver function and to prevent gastric ulcers. Castro remains a picky eater so he also receives an appetite stimulant twice a week.

“The Sacramento Zoo’s team has done an extraordinary job getting him to take his medications and to eat properly, witnessed by his gaining of 40 pounds in the last year,” said Dr. Ray Wack, head veterinarian at the zoo and chief of the VMTH’s Zoological Medicine Service. “The fact that Castro is doing well a year after his diagnosis is a testament to the great care he is receiving from everyone.”

Additional information and photos from the Sacramento Zoo can be found here: