The latest on Mali’s condition from Point Defiance zoo:
Female tiger cub at Point Defiance Zoo remains in critical condition two days after surgery
Tacoma, Wash. – Mali, one of two endangered Sumatran tiger cubs at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, is showing signs of improvement but remains in critical condition after undergoing surgery on Monday.
Zoo head veterinarian Dr. Karen Wolf upgraded her prognosis from “grim” to “grave” but cautioned that the five-month-old cub is still very sick. “Mali is making steady progress but we’re still very much in a wait-and-see mode,” she said.
Mali is waking up for short amounts of time, responding to light and eating small amounts of soft cat food, according to Wolf. Her vital signs also have returned to normal.
The female cub underwent surgery on Monday after keepers noticed she was lethargic and looked uncomfortable. Upon examination, zoo veterinarians found her stomach to be taut and distended. X-rays suggested a blockage somewhere in her gastrointestinal tract. Zoo veterinarians performed exploratory surgery and found several pieces of cartilage from a large bone blocking food from reaching her intestines. Bones are a normal part of a tiger’s diet, said Wolf.
Mali experienced complications following her surgery, went into cardiac arrest and was resuscitated. Zoo veterinarians believe she experienced some brain damage due to low oxygen levels.
Zoo veterinarians have been consulting with emergency veterinarians and neurologists about Mali’s case and treatment options. They are continuing to monitor and evaluate her around-the-clock and provide physical therapy every two hours, said Wolf.
Wolf thanked the community for the outpouring of support that zoo staff have received since Mali became ill. “It’s been a tough few days but we remain hopeful that Mali will pull through,” she said.