A rare, close glimpse at ageing tiger
'Old girl' gets check-up at Wellington ZooELLE HUNT
If you have to get up close and personal with a tiger, best it be an ‘‘old girl’’ with a twinge of arthritis.
Visitors to Wellington Zoo were given the rare opportunity to see a big cat on the operating table as Cantik the Sumatran tiger was given a check-up this morning.
Up to 30 families gathered at the zoo’s vet hospital, The Nest Te Kohanga, to see a team assess Cantik’s teeth, joints and overall wellness.
Veterinary science manager Dr Lisa Argilla said it was her first time operating on the 90kg cat.
‘‘I’ve worked with a lot of lions, but tigers are quite different,’’ she said. ‘‘They’re well-known for being tricky to anaesthetise.’’
Sumatran tigers’ life span is between 10 and 15 years in the wild, but they have been known to live to up to 21 in captivity.
Cantik, who turns 20 next month, has been showing signs of stiffness, and Dr Argilla said a general health assessment was needed before she could decide on a course of treatment.
She said medication to ease arthritic pain could increase Cantik’s risk of kidney failure, as it does in domestic cats.
‘‘A lot of the drugs we use are the same. We just use more of them.’’
The zoo’s two tigers, Cantik and her son Rokan, have been off display since February while the new Asia Precinct is under development.
The facility is due to be opened to the public on September 29.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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