“Berani,” a 12-year-old Sumatran tiger at Zoo Miami, was immobilized recently so that he could receive an examination to evaluate his fertility.
Although Berani successfully sired an offspring in 2015 and breeding has occurred on several occasions since then, all of the subsequent breeding has resulted in false pregnancies. The main purpose of this immobilization was to determine if there is an issue with Berani or if there may be a problem with the female, “Leloo.”
Dr. Linda Penfold, from the South-East Zoo Alliance for Reproduction and Conservation (SEZARC), partnered with the Zoo Miami Animal Health team led by chief veterinarian Dr. Gwen Myers to collect sperm from Berani via electro-ejaculation so that it could be examined under a microscope to determine his fertility.
Unfortunately, although Berani is producing viable sperm, the density in the collected samples was very low, highly diluted and not conducive to successful reproduction. The team is now awaiting the results of blood tests to determine his testosterone level and whether hormone therapy may be an option for treatment.
While Berani was immobilized, the Animal Health team also performed a series of other procedures including an ultrasound, x-rays, a dental cleaning, blood collection, urine collection and manicure as part of an overall preventative medicine program.
Sumatran tigers are critically endangered and there are believed to be less than 500 remaining in the wild where they are found in forested areas on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. Their biggest threats are habitat loss to palm oil plantations and poaching. They are the smallest subspecies of tiger with males reaching up to 300 pounds and females closer to 200 pounds.
Berani represents a very valuable bloodline in the population that is under human care which is why every effort is being made to maintain his ability to contribute to that population.