Local Vet Visits Turpentine Creek To Check on Tiger and Cougar Health
March 3, 2016
On February 24th Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge called in our local Veterinarian. Two of our big cats were having health issues. Big Nasty Tiger was showing signs of an ingrown claw and Luna Cougar had a sore under her chin that looked like a possible damaged or decayed tooth.
Although the days prior to the visit had been warm and dry, it rain/snowed the night before and was only in the mid 30’s the day the Vet came for a visit. This posed a challenge when sedating both big cats. Big cats do not do well when sedated in the cold, but with both issues we could not risk waiting for warmer weather.
We took on the challenge of Big Nasty first. Most of our animals, especially the tigers, do not like shots. They know what is happening the minute they see our pole syringe. (Think shot on the end of a metal stick). This is the safest, most effective method of getting big cats medicated.
Big Nasty, roared, yelled, and generally put up a fuss. It took a while but he finally calmed down enough that we could sneak behind him and medicate him. After 30 minutes Big Nasty was asleep and the staff cautiously entered his night house. Our Vet quickly checked his paws and found no ingrown claws, although some were close to it. He did, however, have a split paw-pad –which happens in even domesticated animals in the colder months. The Vet trimmed all his claws, cleaned his paw-pad, and rubbed a medicated lotion on the pad to help it heal.
After drawing blood, hooking up IVs, putting straw around Big Nasty to keep him warm, and turning on a generator and portable outdoor heater, we left Big Nasty to wake up on his own.
Next the Vet went up to visit our cougars. Luna was easier to medicate the first time, but she refused to go to sleep. We waited and watched, but her adrenaline was too high, so we had to give her a second dose – she is our largest cougar and the first dose was what we typically give our smaller cougars. Finally, she laid down and it was safe to enter her night house.
The Vet checked the sore under her jaw then proceeded to inspect all her teeth. Some were well worn with age, others needed cleaning, but none were severe enough to require extraction –lucky for Luna and us because that is a long, painful, process. Luna was prescribed a strong antibiotic to help with the infection, blood was drawn, IVs were attached, and a heater was setup outside of her enclosure. She was also left to wake up on her own.
Both procedures were done in the night house area of each animal’s habitat. This is our current standard procedure unless an animal needs surgery. Transporting one, let alone two, big cats over 40 minutes away is very stressful. Doing medical work that involves wound care in a habitat is better for stress levels but not the cleanest of environments.
This is one of the main reasons we opted to build a vet hospital on site. Beyond the safety issues associated with transporting a big cat, we also have to worry about stress on the animals and cleanliness of the environment that we conduct procedures on our animals.
The new vet hospital will provide us with a custom build, safe, clean, warm, and dry environment to take care of our sick or injured animals.
Thank you for your support and help building the much needed vet hospital. Both Big Nasty and Luna are healing well and we will continue to monitor their, and the rest of our animals, health closely.