An aging Siberian tiger named Tacoma has recently undergone rare surgery to cure his arthritis pain. The story made news, as this procedure was the first to be performed in the United States. It has been done five other times in Canada.
As reported by WFFA.com on March 20, the 13 year old tiger lives at the In-Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue and Education Center in Wylie, Texas. The tiger was in pain due to his arthritic condition and was having trouble walking normally. Vicky Keahey, president and CEO of the rescue, could not withstand seeing the big cat suffer any longer.
"Instead of taking part in life, he's sitting there watching life," said Keahey.
It was reported that Tacoma mostly laid down because standing up caused a lot of pain and discomfort. A veterinarian said that Tacoma suffers from chronic degenerative arthritis in his hips, and moving even a few steps was a burden to Tacoma. As a result, his muscles were wasting away.
In her effort to help Tacoma, Keahey made contact with Canadian doctors who perform this rare surgery. The procedure is called “surgical denervation” in which the pain signals to the brain are simply cut off.
"All we're doing is taking away the sensation associated with the arthritis there," explained Dr. Doug Whiteside.
The surgery lasted 90 minutes with the hope that Tacoma will walk again. Dr. Hoppes said without the surgery, Tacoma would have had only six months to live.
"You can't have a tiger that can't get up. That would be a death sentence for him," said veterinarian Dr. Sharmin Hoppes.
You can read more about Tacoma on the In-Sync website page here.
The In-Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue and Education Center is located at 3430 Skyview Drive, Wylie, Texas 75098 Telephone: (972) 442-6888
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