Tiger ‘blissfully unaware’ of health check at London Zoo

Vets at London Zoo have faced one of their most challenging tasks - conducting a health check on a tiger.

Raika, a 231lb 17-year-old Sumatran cat, was assessed before a move out of the zoo to make way for new arrivals.

Tiger keepers trained her to lean against the wall of her enclosure so she could be anaesthetised with a handheld injection and avoid the stress of a tranquilliser dart.

Vets then took blood samples and checked Raika’s eyes, ears, razor-sharp teeth, chest and abdomen.

ZSL London Zoo vet Tai Strike said: “Every animal, big or small, must undergo a full health examination before moving between zoos to ensure that they are in good health and fit to travel.

“I checked Raika from teeth to tail and gave her a thorough once-over so that she’ll arrive at her new home in tip-top condition.

“Raika is a model patient and we were able to carry out her full check-up quickly and quietly - and she was blissfully unaware of the whole procedure when she woke up.”

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The Sumatran tiger has lived at the zoo since 1997, and will be moving with mate Lumpur to the Wildlife Heritage Foundation in Smarden, Kent at the end of the month.

ZSL London Zoo’s Tiger Territory exhibit opens in spring next year.