June 25, 2019
On Monday, Floyd, one of six tigers rescued from Oklahoma, was sedated for a routine health exam. Floyd came to us from a closing facility in Oklahoma five months ago. It was clear health issues were plaguing him and the five other tigers at the facility from the moment our team arrived. Floyd was reported to be suffering from Metabolic Bone Disease upon rescue. An exam was required to see the extent of the issue.
All were overweight and outward appearances showed the potential of genetic maladies from inbreeding. An orange tiger, Diesel, was in the most grievous condition; he was lethargic, listless and the owner of the facility reported the tiger had not been eating. Despite intensive intervention by our animal care team, Diesel succumbed to feline infectious anemia four days after his rescue.
First thing was first: the other tigers were tested for the tick-borne pathogen that struck Diesel then promptly put on healthy diets to combat their obesity. Aside from Robbie, a painfully overweight white tiger, we were most concerned with Floyd. He had evident physical deformities in his front limbs and had been previously diagnosed with metabolic bone disease.
Dr. Kellyn immediately started Floyd on a pain management program and vitamin regimen. We couldn’t sedate him for an extensive exam until the weather reached more ideal temperatures and there were no storms; Monday, we were finally able to get the perfect day.
The examination revealed the extent of Floyd’s limb deformities. The bones in his front legs are twisted. We will continue our current treatment plan of medication and vitamins since it appears to be working. Given the severity of his deformities, he would likely be in constant pain, were it not for his current course of care that allows him to stalk through his habitat, shred enrichment, and splash in his pool.
Floyd also has a significant heart murmur and an undescended testicle. Because both conditions pose consequential risks, we will be monitoring them and re-evaluate when he is sedated to be neutered. It is our hope that both complications will improve or completely resolve in a few months. If not, we will have to perform a more invasive neuter to remove the testicle and determine the best course of treatment for the murmur.
Floyd’s malformed bones and other health struggles are most likely symptoms of improper breeding. Improper breeding is a symptom of greed. In a world where big cats, bears, and other exotic animals are widely regarded for their profit value rather than their conservational value, the ability to make a dollar trumps the ethical responsibility of those who exploit them.
We were too late to save Diesel and many others. It would have been easy to let the unfairness and the unjustness of the situation envelope us; we were heartbroken that we lost such a sweet soul so quickly and utterly infuriated that this tiger could have been saved had he been given help much, much sooner. However, there are many other animals that needed our help so we channeled our sadness and anger into a sheer determination to give them the chance Diesel didn’t get. Because Diesel deserved better. They all deserved better.
Please join us in fighting against the Exotic Pet Trade, where veterinary care, healthy diets, proper enclosures, and responsible breeding are considered unworthy of the expense. Join us in fighting against the industry that viewed Diesel as disposable and Floyd’s pain as irrelevant. They deserved better. They all deserve better.