Family Time
August, 2012 - Issue #94
Big Elephant and
Big Dental Bill at the
Santa Barbara Zoo

Brick-sized teeth, 30 people, a huge crane... and you thought your dental work was expensive! Little Mac, an Asian elephant who has lived at the Santa Barbara Zoo for 40 of her 41 years, has had issues with her teeth for much of her life. Found as an orphaned calf wandering in the jungle in southern India, she may have been weaned too early or suffered malnutrition, leading to dental woes. Until recently, Little Mac ate normally and remained healthy. But currently she is unable to chew her food adequately and is losing weight. The zoo veterinarian and elephant team agree: something must be done immediately.

It will involve the Zoo's veterinarian and four elephant keepers, plus a team experienced in the procedure, including a dentist who specializes in exotic animals, two veterinarians from the San Diego Safari Park, vet techs and staff - nearly 30 people. A large crane must be onsite to support her if she needs help standing afterwards. Then there's the actual anaesthetizing of the 8,100 pound pachyderm, x-rays and other diagnostic tests, filing down or removing teeth - and whatever else is needed for Little Mac's ongoing health and comfort. The cost: more than $100,000.

The Santa Barbara Zoo is committed to the welfare of all its creatures, be they jumbo-sized or tiny. There is no question that this procedure must be done and quickly. You can help Little Mac with a special donation to offset the costs of her dental work at And "like" Inside SCV Magazine on Facebook for a chance to win a family four-pack to the Zoo to visit Little Mac and her friends!

Cooking Camp to College: Success Starts Early
When I was 13 years old I was already cooking for the family and making sure the dinner was finished by the time my mom and dad came home. Today, I want to make sure that our young chefs get the same opportunity. Little Chefs & Teen Chefs Cooking Camp prepares young chefs to handle anything in the kitchen and be able to make dinner for the family but it also prepares them for a career in the kitchen as a cook, sous chef and eventually an executive chef. This reminds me of a student of mine that is doing exactly this: Tori Rost.

Tori started five years ago at the age of 13 at one of the cooking camps I used to teach at in Pasadena and her passion for cooking still is alive and well today! When you ask Tori what makes her want to cook, she will tell you that she loves it and is very comfortable in the kitchen. Why? Because of her experience in the cooking camp. This solidified her wanting to pursue this field further. After attending the cooking camp, Tori decided that her next step to her culinary career was to go to an ROP Culinary Arts Program offered at West Ranch High School in Stevenson Ranch.

Today, Tori is a student of mine at the Culinary Arts Institute at Los Angeles Mission College in Sylmar and in her third semester. She also has had the opportunity of working with Salt Creek Grille Catering, RSVP Catering and also is an assistant instructor at our cooking camp. So, I would say that Tori is doing great and I am very proud that she is on the right path in her successful career in the culinary arts. If you have a child that is interested in pursuing a career in the culinary arts, start them early!
Chef Louis Eguaras of Little Chefs Teen Chefs Cooking Camp

Ruptured Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) in Dogs
If you are the owner of a medium- to large-breed canine, there is a possibility that your pet has or will rupture his/her Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). In canine patients, the ACL is properly called a CrCL, or Cranial Cruciate Ligament. Typically when the CrCL is torn or ruptures, the femur rides backwards on the tibia, and the tibia wants to come forward. This produces an abnormal movement called cranial tibial subluxation or "drawer sign." The bottom line is that it hurts! Many clients that bring their pets with a CrCL rupture say that it occurred during running, fetching, slips on a slippery surface, or when playing with other pets. To the client, it may appear as an acute (or quick onset) injury, but this is not the case. This is a chronic disease in dogs. In contrast to humans, where ACL rupture is almost always caused by trauma, most dogs suffer from a slowly progressive CrCL degeneration. The resulting weakened CrCL can rupture with minimal trauma. If left untreated, a pet with a ruptured cranial cruciate ligament will develop severe degenerative joint disease (arthritis). Due to the biomechanical wearing, 40 percent of dogs that tear one CrCL will someday tear the other.
Dr. Sandhu of All Creatures Emergency Center in Newhall 291-1121 and Canyon Country Animal Hospital in Canyon Country 424-9900

Samantha and Mikayla Figueroa
Samantha and Mikayla Figueroa
Samantha and Mikayla Figueroa
"My wife and I have two daughters: Samantha (13) and Mikayla (7). We tried several acting schools and commercial training classes along the way with no notable results. All of that changed when we found the Santa Clarita School of Performing Arts (SCSOPA) and its charismatic founder, Mr. Mike. Mike delivered on his promise to have the girls audition for well-known agencies right there at the school. The girls were ultimately taken on as clients by the Colleen Cler Agency. Samantha's image now appears on the toy box for the Orbeeze Foot Spa toy at Toys R' Us. She will also appear this month in a Color Splasherz toy television commercial on the Nickelodeon Channel. Mikayla will appear in a 2013 feature film with Billy Zane playing her 'dad.' She has also appeared in the television comedy 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.' Thanks to Mike and his wonderful organization, many doors and opportunities are now opening for my daughters that they might never have experienced." ~Mr. & Mrs. Figueroa
Santa Clarita School of Performing Arts 222-7910

Keep your Family Safe
Avoiding Head Injuries

With summer here, accidents may strike closer to home. Specifically - head injuries. There are 1.7 million a year in the US alone. With bikes and skateboards, make sure everyone wears a helmet. Concrete is harder than bone. If kids argue about the "not cool" factor, take them to the bike shop and plaster those helmets with stickers. Now, that's cool! Parents, wear your helmets, too. You're setting an example. With contact sports, wear a mouthguard. It helps absorb a blow which could travel full force to the head and cause a concussion.

Any fall to the head warrants a trip to the doctor's office. Watch for loved ones being groggy or nauseous. Do not let them lie down and "sleep" it off. Closed head injuries are deadly. The brain swells/bleeds. If a CAT scan is ordered, ensure the proper setting is in place and not one from a previous patient to avoid radiation risk.
Don't think, "It'll never happen to me." My son Adam fell four stories from the roof of our mall parking lot. The diagnosis was Traumatic Brain Injury. His life is changed forever. We both hope yours isn't.

Enjoy summer in our valley - safely.
Alex Stelmach is the author of "Adam Reborn: A Family Guide to Surviving a Traumatic Brain Injury," the inspiring book of hope and recovery.
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