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Zoo News: Sumatran Tiger Cubs; Gorilla Gets Brain Scan

Sumatran Tiger Cubs on Exhibit at San Diego Zoo San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park photo by Ken Bohn Three Sumatran tiger cubs roll, romp and rumble in the tiger exhibit at the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park this week. The trio, born November last year, was only recently allowed outdoors for public viewing, the...

Sumatran Tiger Cubs on Exhibit at San Diego Zoo


San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park photo by Ken Bohn

Three Sumatran tiger cubs roll, romp and rumble in the tiger exhibit at the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park this week.

The trio, born November last year, was only recently allowed outdoors for public viewing, the zoo said in the caption accompanying this picture. “They will be tussling (or sleeping) in the exhibit from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.”
The four-month-old balls of tumbling fur showed their distinct personalities within their first weeks of life, the statement added.

“Damai, a female whose name means peace in Indonesian, was the first to open her eyes and has an upside-down V above her nose and three separate markings above her right eye. Harimau Kayu, a male whose Indonesian name translates to tiger woods, is the noisiest and has a marking like a check mark ( v ) above his right eye. Kucing, a male whose name means cat in Indonesian, was the first to explore outside the den box. Now in their fourth month, Kucing is rivaling Harimau in noise production!”

The cubs were born to Delta, a 10-year-old female. Utan, an 18-year-old male, is their father. This is the second time the pair has bred successfully. In 2006 they produced three cubs that now live at the Topeka Zoo.

The Sumatran tiger is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Only between 300 and 400 Sumatran tigers are left in the wild on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, mostly in national parks, San Diego Zoo said. There are only 350 in managed care.

The primary threats to the Sumatran tiger are poaching, habitat destruction and elimination of prey.


Bronx Zoo Gorilla Gets Brain Scan


Dr. Stephanie B. James holds Fubo’s breathing tube steady as he is transported to the Bobby Murcer Mobile MRI Unit.

Wildlife Conservation Society photo by Julie Larsen Maher

Dozens of wildlife veterinarians, zookeepers, and medical personnel from several institutions were on hand to administer a scan of the brain of Fubo, a 42-year-old silverback gorilla living in New York’s Bronx Zoo.

Fubo recently suffered a seizure, prompting WCS health and curatorial staff to seek out a neurological diagnosis, the Wildlife Consewrvation Society (WCS) said in a statement. WCS manages the zoo.

Fubo is one of two adult males, or silverbacks, living in the Bronx Zoo’s Congo Gorilla Forest exhibit, which houses one of the largest breeding groups of western lowland gorillas in North America (more than 20 individuals).

The Brain Tumor Foundation responded to WCS’s request for assistance with Fubo by sending its mobile MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) facility and staff to the Bronx Zoo’s campus, free of charge, WCS said.

“The gorilla was sedated for the two-hour procedure, placed into the MRI’s magnetic tube for the scans (a snug fit for a patient with gorilla-sized shoulders), and returned to the Congo Gorilla Forest as planned.”


Daniel Jusza (foreground), Operations Manager for the Bobby Murcer Mobile MRI Unit, examines Fubo’s MRI scan with Technologist Daniel Genovese (middle) and WCS Veterinarian Dr. Jason Berg.

Wildlife Conservation Society photo by Julie Larsen Maher

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The scans were interpreted by staff of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and reviewed with WCS’s Global Health Program staff. The findings indicated that Fubo’s condition was caused by a lesion in the left temporal lobe of his brain. The specific cause of the problem has not yet been determined.

“Veterinary staff has concluded that Fubo’s condition is not treatable with surgery, so they will continue to treat the gorilla with medication in an effort to control his seizures and other clinical signs,” WCS said.

“Thanks to the generosity of The Brain Tumor Foundation, we were able to perform an MRI of Fubo’s brain and this gave us insights into the possible cause of his illness. The ability to use their mobile MRI unit allowed us to perform this procedure right here at the Bronx Zoo,” said Dr. Paul P. Calle, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Zoological Health Program and a participant in the MRI procedure.

“These images have given us a better understanding of the possible causes of Fubo’s problem and have helped to guide his care. It was a great opportunity to enlist the most progressive technology for the diagnosis of people with similar problems to our close relative the endangered gorilla. The procedure contributes to the knowledge of veterinary healthcare of gorillas and other primates which will help WCS’s health care programs and those of all facilities that house and care for gorillas.”


WCS veterinary staff and technicians from the Brain Tumor Foundation and other groups perform an MRI of a gorilla.

Wildlife Conservation Society photo by Julie Larsen Maher

The Brain Tumor Foundation’s Mobile Unit recently embarked on the “Road to Early Detection,” a national campaign that promotes the early detection of brain tumors. The Unit travels New York City and its five boroughs offering free brain scans to everyone, especially those who do not have medical services available to them. The Unit is named after Bobby Murcer, the professional baseball player and broadcaster who was an advocate for The Brain Tumor Foundation’s “Road to Early Detection” campaign. Murcer succumbed to a brain tumor in July of 2008.


“We were pleased to help the Wildlife Conservation Society in the diagnosis of Fubo’s condition. Our message of early detection extends to all New Yorkers. We need to build awareness about the importance of early detection in the battle against brain tumors,” said Patrick Kelly, founder and president of The Brain Tumor Foundation. “If found early, most brain tumors can be removed before symptoms become apparent. The only way to do this is with an MRI brain scan. Our goal is to make MRI brain scans as routine as examinations for breast, colon, and prostate cancer.”

An MRI is a frequently used technique for imaging structures within the human body. The method is more effective at imaging organs and soft tissue than the CT scan (computed tomography) and is often used in neurological scans.

The Brain Tumor Foundation raises awareness among medical professionals and the public about the need for the early detection of brain tumors while continuing to offer support groups, medical referrals, peer matching programs such as Phone-a-Friend, and events including our annual conference, Brain Tumor Awareness Day.

Watch this National Geographic video of two lowland gorillas in the wild facing off in a test of strength:

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Author Photo David Max Braun
More than forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Max Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. In his 22-year career at National Geographic he was VP and editor in chief of National Geographic Digital Media, and the founding editor of the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directed the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. A regular expert on National Geographic Expeditions, David also lectures on storytelling for impact. He has 120,000 followers on social media: Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn