The Tulsa Zoo's newest resident gets ready to meet his mate

Tuesday, November 25th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The Tulsa Zoo searched for a couple of years for an acceptable mate for its female jaguar, Tavi. They found Pepitio in Guatemala and moved him here.

The News on 6's Rick Wells was there Tuesday when Pepitio got his physical, the last step before moving in with his new mate. Dr Tawnia Zollinger is cleaning the big cat's teeth; it's part of his complete physical exam.

Tulsa Zoo vet Dr Kay Backues: "We try to examine our big cats once every two, two and a half years." Since Pepitio just arrived last month from Guatemala, this is the first chance to really give him the once over.

They checked his ears. They checked his paws and claws and they found a paw that's missing a claw. Dr Backues: "I don't know if he was born that way or not, there's not a scar so." So she says it's not a problem. They poked him and prodded and took a bunch of blood samples.

The only thing they found of much concern is a broken tooth. Backues: "We think he may have broken it in transport or he may have bitten something in the crate or bitten the cage bar." A veterinary dentist will have to do a root canal on him.

Otherwise she says he is in very good shape and his weight is down which is good. All of this, prepping for his first meeting with Tavi, she's the zoo's female jaguar.

Blind dates are not always the most successful so for a while he and she will get to know each other, from a distance, by sight and scent. He's being moved into an adjacent holding area, when he wakes up they'll get the first idea of how these two big cats will get along.

Hopefully well and then happily ever after at the Tulsa Zoo.