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  • Paul Dawkins, 8, created a get-well poster for tiger cub Berani, whom Paul regularly visits at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.

    Paul Dawkins, 8, created a get-well poster for tiger cub Berani, whom Paul regularly visits at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.

    Boy at Mary Bridge sends get-well message to his friend, a tiger

    by Cole Cosgrove

    A tiger cub who is recovering from a critical illness received a note of encouragement this week from another young patient who knows what it's like to go through multiple medical procedures.

    In his bed at MultiCare Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma, 8-year-old Paul Dawkins sorted through a pile of marking pens to find orange and black and brown.

    Paul wanted those colors so he could create a get-well poster for his friend Berani, an endangered Malayan tiger cub who was being treated by animal doctors across town at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.

    “I was diagnosed with leukemia the same week that Berani was born,” said Paul as he explained his special connection with the 6-month-old tiger (who is now in "very good" condition).

    In fact, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium was Paul’s first outing from the hospital after he began his treatment for cancer last year.

    Paul knows a lot about Berani, including that the cub’s name means “brave or courageous.”

    Visiting the tigers has become part of Paul’s treatment routine. After the family travels from Port Orchard for Paul’s regular appointments in the hematology/oncology clinic at the Mary Bridge Health Center, they go to the zoo.

    “That’s what we do, go check out the tigers,” said Jen Pettit-Dawkins, Paul’s mother. “He’ll sit there 20 or 25 minutes and just watch them.”

    As Berani began to recover, Paul’s poster was delivered to zookeepers, who were touched by Paul’s gift.

    In elementary handwriting was the message, “Get well soon Berani,” next to an illustration of a tiger and a boy, smiling.

    In orange and black and brown, Paul and Berani were drawn together.

    Posted on Mar 5, 2013 in Tacoma