FHS Press

The circle of life

Loss of life at the Pittsburgh Zoo, Sumatran tiger species grows

The+elephant+calf+born+on+Aug.+30+at+the+Pittsburgh+Zoo+%26+PPG+Aquarium+shows+off+her+Penguin+pride+while+draped+in+a+Stanley+Cup+Final+2017+towel+and+Sumatran+tigers+are+one+of+the+rarest+animals+in+the+world%2C+being+the+rarest+of+all+tiger+species%2C+with+as+few+as+300+left+in+the+wild.
The elephant calf born on Aug. 30 at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium shows off her Penguin pride while draped in a Stanley Cup Final 2017 towel and Sumatran tigers are one of the rarest animals in the world, being the rarest of all tiger species, with as few as 300 left in the wild.

The elephant calf born on Aug. 30 at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium shows off her Penguin pride while draped in a Stanley Cup Final 2017 towel and Sumatran tigers are one of the rarest animals in the world, being the rarest of all tiger species, with as few as 300 left in the wild.

The elephant calf born on Aug. 30 at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium shows off her Penguin pride while draped in a Stanley Cup Final 2017 towel and Sumatran tigers are one of the rarest animals in the world, being the rarest of all tiger species, with as few as 300 left in the wild.

Jessica Palakovich, Editor-in-Chief (FHS-Press.com)

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Recently, there have been some major events in zoos around the world, including the deaths of some of the animals at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium and the growth of an endangered tiger species.

Locally, in Pittsburgh, the nearly 3-month-old elephant passed away due to euthanization early on Aug. 30 at the Pittsburgh Zoo. Though she never had an official name, the baby elephant was known by the staff as “Little Bit.”

From birth, the calf had many complications that eventually led to the zoo’s decision to put the animal to sleep. Born almost a month premature at the zoo’s International Conservation Center in Somerset County, her weight came to 52 pounds lower than the average African elephant calf’s weight at birth at 184 pounds.

Seeni, a 23-year-old elephant, was the calf’s mother. Immediately after birth, Seeni rejected her baby and produced no milk for her. While the herd’s matriarch, Tasha, picked up some of the responsibility, the zoo had to step in. Staff had 24-hour care, feeding her by hand with a mixture of elephant’s milk taken from another zoo female and African elephant milk formula.

Instead of gaining weight, an expected one pound for every two days, it showed an instant drop to 178 pounds. Keepers noticed that this was due to the calf experiencing teething problems. Four of her molars were coming in simultaneously, making drinking milk difficult. On Aug. 23, keepers observed that the calf had stopped eating altogether due to these problems. Straightaway, she was taken into emergency surgery to insert a feeding tube into her esophagus.

The lack of weight gain was concerning, despite a consistent flow of food being pumped into her stomach. While the calf should have been over 200 pounds, she was at 166 without any signs of improvement.

Unfortunately, this led to the zoo’s decision to euthanize the little elephant.

It is suspected that the calf was born with some sort of birth defect and was not able to gain weight. Results from the necropsy report are expected in eight to 12 weeks from the date of death. The zoo plans for the elephant to be buried on the property of the Somerset location where she was born.

The elephant was born as part of the zoo’s breeding program. Senior McKenzie Deitrick, who is involved in the Zoo U. and Zoo Teens programs at the zoo, is in favor of breeding programs, even if they aren’t always successful.

“We kind of have to have the breeding program because it’s for the species. It’s not for people- it’s for the animals so that they don’t die out,” Deitrick said.

Deitrick went on to say more positive statements about the breeding program, “It gives people more of an opportunity to study them [the animals] and see what their habits are and how we can better protect them in the wild.”

One day after the baby elephant had to be put to sleep, Taiga, the zoo’s oldest tiger, died suddenly from possible complications from a hernia. The Amur tiger of 18 years had been last examined in December 2016, but the medical reports showed no signs of abnormalities.

On the date of his death, Taiga was scheduled for a small procedure to trim his dewclaws. Dewclaws are two claws on a tigers front legs that can grow into their foot pads when they are older, which could potentially cause  infection and pain.

That morning, he was anesthetized for the procedure. He had never previously showed any signs of having any negative reactions to anesthesia. After the effects of the anesthesia wore off, Taiga recovered quickly and was moving around comfortably.

Despite the procedure going as planned, later that afternoon, the tiger unexpectedly stopped breathing. A keeper and technician immediately began CPR and was rushed to the veterinarian to intubate Taiga in an attempt to save him. But in the end, the attempts were unsuccessful.

After results from a necropsy came back, several areas were found to have been cancerous. Nethertheless, the report had concluded that neither the dewclaw procedure and anesthesia, nor the cancer had been the cause of death. They believe that a hernia that had been present for some time had shifted the position of his intestines around the diaphragm and chest area, compromising Taiga’s breathing. The zoo is still waiting for the results of the toxicology tests to confirm this as the cause.

Dr. Douglas Armstrong, the veterinary adviser to the American Zoos & Aquarium’s tiger species survival plan, said that even if the problem was detected earlier or if the zoo had a surgeon on site, Taiga would had to have been re-anesthetized, which may have caused issues in itself. The surgery would have also required pulling the intestines out of the hernia and sewing up the hernia. This procedure is not an easy one, and may not have been effective.

On a much lighter note, at the zoo in Flamingo Land in North Yorkshire, England, a Sumatran tiger was born on Aug. 25.

After suffering a miscarriage, the mother, Surya, was successful with having this cub. Surya and Bawa, the new cub’s father, also had triplets back in 2014. The parents were introduced to Flamingo Land back in 2010 as part of a worldwide conservation effort to save this species from extinction.

While observing Surya’s pregnancy, the zoo was convinced the cub would be stillborn, however, the baby was born healthy. The cub is with its mother in a secure tiger den. Not wanting to disturb them, the keepers have decided to keep their space, so the sex of the baby is still unknown.

Gordan Gibb, the CEO of Flamingo Land, states, “Conservation is our passion and the survival of the Sumatran Tigers is one of our key missions… We are extremely proud of our efforts.”

The Sumatran tiger is one of the rarest animals in the world. With only about 400 left in existence, 300 of those being wild, it is also the smallest tiger species in size. Just 40 years ago, that number was as high as 1,000. Due to their size and power, it has no natural predators in its native environment. The species is critically endangered because in the wild, they can only be found on the Indonesian island of Sumatra and they have constant threats of illegal poaching and habitat loss from deforestation.

Some of the characteristics of the Sumatran tiger are unlike other species. For one, their stripes are narrower than those of other tiger species and manes that are larger and fuller. These tigers also have slightly webbed paws which allows them to catch their prey more efficiently.

While attempts to save the elephant were unsuccessful, in other parts in the world efforts are being made to save entire species.

Leave a Comment

Please review our full comments policy on our Policies page before posting.

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




*

Navigate Left
  • The circle of life

    News

    A place called Homecoming

  • News

    News-In-Brief

  • The circle of life

    News

    Administrators give ‘State of the District’ report

  • The circle of life

    News

    Brand new DECA cards

  • The circle of life

    News

    Standing in the hall of fame

  • The circle of life

    News

    Hurricane Florence devastates thousands leaving mass destruction along coast

  • The circle of life

    News

    Summer brings administrative, classroom changes to FASD

  • The circle of life

    News

    A much needed renovation

  • News

    News-in-Brief

  • The circle of life

    News

    ‘Out with the old and in with the new’

Navigate Right
Freedom Area High School's Student Newspaper
The circle of life