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Tiger Darting

“Bull's eye!” Honey exclaimed. “Can I try Doc?”

“Let me finish these three, then it can be your turn,” Rory said. The target was twenty feet away. He pulled the second dart from his pocket. It was an elongated plastic syringe with a needle at one end and a feathered yarn tail at the other. The syringe was empty of medicine as he was just practicing.

His blowpipe was a lightweight aluminum tube with a mouthpiece at one end. When he raised it to his lips, he looked like he was ready to blow a bugle charge. Instead, he could puff a dart into an animal and that puff was powerful enough to enter the hide, as long as the needle tip was sharp. He watched Honey blow off a few rounds and decided they were good enough shots.

“How do these work?” she asked. “I see two chambers divided by a rubber stopper.”

“This front space is where the medicine goes, and the back chamber is pressurized to inject the medication when it penetrates the skin.”

“And how is the drug shot into the animal?”

“These tips that pierce the hide are sharpened metal hollow needles with side ports that are blocked by this small rubber collar. When the needle enters the skin, the rubber sleeve is pushed backward freeing the pressurized medication from the now open ports.”

“Got it!”

“Give Sandra a call, see if she’s ready for us,” Rory said gathering the rest of the supplies needed to place a birth control implant in Kaitlin, Sandra’s Bengal tiger.

“This implant, how does it work?” Honey asked as she got in the truck.

“It dispenses a birth control drug to prevent the cat from entering her usual estral cycling. It works for two years.”

“Why birth control, are there too many tigers? I thought they're endangered.”

Rory shook his head. “Nope, zoos all over the world already have too many tigers, and different subspecies are interbreeding, causing a dilution of original genetics. New cubs have become a liability. They cost the zoo money to feed, and they are not wanted elsewhere.”

"Where is everyone?" Rory asked as he drove up Sandra's steep driveway.

“She’s over there in front of the enclosure,” Honey said.

Sandra walked over as he parked. “I’ve locked her in the bedroom. Are you ready? Do you have everything?” She was anxious to get this done.

“Yep,” Rory replied. He looked at Honey. She nodded too.

Sandra approached the tiger first. With things set, she motioned the others to come along. Inside the cat's bedroom the outside light diminished, and the air was still. The entire bedroom reeked of cat piss.

Kaitlin was standing on the floor separated from the humans by heavy wire mesh. She knew something was different and was growling and pacing back and forth with her ears pinned back.

Rory loaded the dart and put it into the blowgun.

Kaitlin retreated to the far corner and sat, still growling. Rory took his time waiting for her to change position. When she did he still paused, he needed a guaranteed exposure.


Puffing out the first round, Rory made a direct hit on the right flank.

Kaitlin snarled and turned quickly. Biting the dart, she pulled it free. Rory could see the dart had discharged successfully; the syringe was empty. Now all they could do was wait.

“How long will it take?” Honey asked in a quiet voice.

“Twenty minutes, but she might need more. When she gets amped up her high adrenaline level can override some of the sedative.” Evidently this was the case and after twenty-five minutes Rory fired off another dart.


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