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Sacramento Zoo’s beloved tiger dies

Castro, the Sumatran tiger at Sacramento Zoo, was euthanized Wednesday, when his medical condition worsened. He spent most of his life in Sacramento and was recently suffering from lymphoma. He was 16
1/2
 years old when he died, old when it comes to Sumatran tigers, exceeding his life expectancy. The keepers and veterinarians who cared for him recalled Castro as an incredible tiger but like most cats, he did things on his terms.
Castro, the Sumatran tiger at Sacramento Zoo, was euthanized Wednesday, when his medical condition worsened. He spent most of his life in Sacramento and was recently suffering from lymphoma. He was 16 1/2 years old when he died, old when it comes to Sumatran tigers, exceeding his life expectancy. The keepers and veterinarians who cared for him recalled Castro as an incredible tiger but like most cats, he did things on his terms.

Castro, the prolific and beautiful tiger has died, the Sacramento Zoo announced Thursday.

Castro was euthanized Wednesday when his medical condition worsened. He was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2013. At age 161/2, he was an old man, exceeding the life expectancy for Sumatran tigers. He spent most of his life in Sacramento.

Castro was the oldest breeding male Sumatran tiger in the United States. He and his female companion, Bahagia, have five living offspring that went to other Association of Zoos and Aquariums to participate in the Tiger Species Survival Plan.

Their last tiger cub, Castro Jr., known around Land Park as CJ, was born March 3, 2013. CJ now resides at the Los Angeles Zoo. Fewer than 500 Sumatran tigers are thought to exist in the wild. They are found only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

Ray Wack, senior veterinarian at the zoo, thanked specialists from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and the Sacramento medical community for their help in providing Castro a long and comfortable life.

The zoo supplied a synopsis of Castro’s recent medical care:

“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 gastrointestinal 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.”

The keepers and veterinarians who cared for him recalled Castro as an incredible tiger, who – like most cats – did things on his terms.

“He’s been challenging and stubborn at times but these are also traits that we’ve loved about him,” said carnivore zookeeper Amanda Watters. “It often made us laugh when he had to readjust his toys or furniture to just the way he liked it.”

Call The Bee’s Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

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