Staff at London Zoo had their hands full this week giving pre-travel health checks to a Sumatran tiger, which is moving to a new home at the Wildlife Heritage Foundation in Kent.

Staff at London Zoo had their hands full this week, giving pre-travel health checks to a Sumatran tiger.

Dr Taina Strike takes a blood sample from Raika the Sumatran tigress.Raika is 17 years old and was given a full medical ahead of a move to a new home this month as she makes way for new arrivals for the zoo’s Tiger Territory exhibit, which opens in spring 2013.

Visits to the vet are not something the animals look forward to, but the tiger keepers at London Zoo have trained Raika to lean against the wall of her enclosure so that she can be anaesthetised with a handheld injection; without any of the stress of using a tranquilizer dart.

The medical examination was carried out in the tiger enclosure to save moving the 105kg (16.5 stone) big cat to the veterinary hospital.

Once she was anaesthetised, blood samples were taken and Raika’s eyes, ears, teeth, chest and abdomen were all given the once over before it was declared that she had passed her health check with flying colours.

Raika's pawZSL veterinary officer Taina Strike, who had the unenviable task of examining Raika’s razor-sharp teeth at close range, 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.”

The Sumatran tigress has lived at ZSL London Zoo since 1997, and will be moving with mate Lumpur to the Wildlife Heritage Foundation in Smarden, Kent at the end of September 2012.

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