Emergency Surgery Needed

Give Blackfire A Fighting Chance

November 2, 2018

Our staff veterinarian, Dr. Kellyn Sweely, discovered on Tuesday, October 30, that Blackfire, a two-year-old white tiger, has either a hiatal hernia or a diaphragmic hernia. After consulting with multiple veterinarians and veterinary schools, who confirmed Dr. Sweely’s diagnosis, it has become apparent that he needs extensive surgery to fix the issue as soon as possible. Because of the complexity of the operation, we cannot safely perform it at our on-site veterinary hospital. During the surgery, he will need a dedicated anesthesia team to assist in his breathing, monitor his heart and blood pressure throughout the procedure, as well as multiple tools and supplies that we do not currently have readily available. Without the surgery, his intestines will strangulate and he will die.

Our animal curator, Emily McCormack and on staff Veterinarian Dr. Kellyn Sweely, will be taking Blackfire to Kansas. The surgery is scheduled for 8 am on Tuesday, November 6. Dr. Sweely will be making the 720-mile round trip with Blackfire so that she can monitor his health.

We have received an estimate for the operation, transportation, aftercare, and medication for $9,000. This is an unexpected expense that comes when we are already desperately needing to fundraise to help cover higher winter bills. We need your help today to cover the expenses and make sure that Black Fire gets the help he needs before it advances beyond repair.

For the procedure, we have reached out to Kansas State University’s (KSU) Exotic, Wildlife & Zoo Animal expert, Dr. James Carpenter, who has agreed to oversee the surgery. Dr. Carpenter has advised and assisted our team many times in the past; he is the best in his field. KSU has taken care of many of our animals in previous circumstances and we have had good results working with that team. We know Blackfire will get the help he needs at KSU.

Upon arrival at KSU Blackfire will get a CT scan to help the surgical team evaluate which type of hernia they will be dealing with, our X-Rays can show a limited view of the issue. At this point, we cannot say if the hernia is congenital or caused by something else.

Two years ago, Turpentine Creek rescued 115 animals from a cub petting facility in Colorado, including Blackfire and his two sisters who suffer from severe metabolic bone disease. With the help and dedication of our team, the trio survived this precarious time in their lives. Black Fire and his siblings have grown into rambunctious teenagers with a strong will to survive. Due to the health issues caused by the Metabolic Bone Disease, Blackfire and his siblings spend more time than most of our other animals with our veterinarian.

We will have more information about the surgery in the upcoming days and will keep our supporters up-to-date on Blackfire’s health status. Hopefully, with the surgery, he will get to live a long, happy life here at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. We are eager to see him back on his feet and playing with his sisters in the near future.

Donate now and help us give Blackfire a fighting chance.

UPDATE: We reached our goal! Blackfire’s surgery is funded.