Tonga

Tonga

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hear big catsTonga

Male White Serval
DOB 5/21/97

Sponsor Tonga http://big-cat-rescue.myshopify.com/products/serval-sponsorship

 

Tonga the White ServalTo our knowledge, only two white servals exist in the world:  Tonga and his brother Pharaoh.  The white coat is just the outward indication of the deleterious effects of inbreeding.  Tonga was 15 years old when he was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma. Although most arise without antecedent cause, in many species, especially in white cats, prolonged exposure to sunlight is a major predisposing factor.  Being a wild cat, Tonga lives outside, and what cat doesn’t love to nap in their favorite sunny spot?

 

Tonga’s adult life has been pretty uneventful from a medical perspective.  He had a bad tooth extracted in 2010 and he had an abscess treated on his leg in late 2011 but his blood work was pretty much routine for an elderly cat.  (In the wild and in most other places Servals only live to be 10 or 12, but at Big Cat Rescue they have an average lifespan of 17).  In July 2011 our Education Director Willow reported on the Veterinary Observation Chart that Tonga had a cut or scab on his nose.  It was treated and went away but then in February of 2012 Keeper Bren reported it had recurred.  It was treated with antibiotics and subsided, but recurred again in August of 2012.  Something strange was going on here and this time it looked much worse, so despite the dangers in sedating an exotic cat we decided to do a full work up on him first by Dr. Wynn at the Ehrlich Road Animal Hospital and then by Dr. Jen Coyle and Dr. Wendy Gwin at the Blue Pearl Oncology lab.

 

White Serval Tonga Licks Paw

White Serval Tonga Licks Paw

We were crushed when we heard the devastating news that it was cancer.  After many tests and a full CT scan of his nose it was determined that the only way to save Tonga’s life would be to remove his cute little pink nose.  The surgeons have to take a full centimeter extra, around the cancerous mass, in order to make sure they get all of the cancerous cells.  That will mean removing his entire nose, but the good news is that they said it should heal very well and that he will be able to live outside again once the skin has completely healed over.  He will just have higher nostrils on his face and more of a Persian profile than that of a normal Serval.  He will still be beautiful to us.

 

 

 

The other bit of good news is that Tonga is strong, has a healthy appetite and zest for life and the cancer does not appear to have spread into his brain or nasal cavities, so he could live another two years.  That is an average lifespan for our Servals and we feel like this surgery will give him a chance.  To leave it untreated will undoubtedly result in the spread to the rest of his body and cats are so good at masking pain that we fear he would suffer and not let us know.  The only clue we had that there was anything wrong this time was a recurring sore on his nose.

 

WhiteServal-TongaSpotsWhile waiting on test results and several expert opinions on what could be done we have wrestled with these options.  It will be thousands of dollars for the diagnostics we have already done and the delicate surgery that he needs.  Tonga could die during surgery.  He could have a recurrence or have the cancer manifest in other organs.  He may live a few weeks, a few months or a few years;  we just don’t know.  What we do know is that we have to try.  We hope that you agree that every life is precious and worth trying to save by helping us fund the work here and specifically Tonga’s surgery.

 

 

Update 8/18/12:  Tonga had three hours of surgery today at Blue Pearl to remove his cancerous nose.  Tonga is back at Big Cat Rescue, in the Cat Hospital, and will recover in there until his nose heals over sufficiently that it will not be bothered by bugs or get infected.

 

Tonga’s Dental Video

 

 

Tonga has since been moved to a shadier area of the sanctuary to prevent any more potential sun damage.

 

 

More About Tonga the White Serval

 

White Serval Tonga as a Cub

White Serval Tonga as a Cub

Tonga was born at Big Cat Rescue before we knew any better back in the 1990s.  When we first began we only had the guidance of those who bred and sold cats and believed that what they said was true. We started breeding some cats under the misguided notion that this was a way to “preserve the species.” We had not then figured out what seems so obvious to us today, that breeding for life in a cage an animal that was meant to roam free was inherently cruel. Tonga was born to parents Frosty and Nairobi, who has since been neutered and spayed.  We didn’t know it at the time, but they must have been closely related.

 

Tonga has a white coat and very few spots, the spots that he does have are silvery gray. Tonga is a shy cat that likes to keep to himself, except at feeding time, when he magically turns into your best friend in the whole world. Like many of the servals at Big Cat Rescue, Tonga loves enrichment involving scents. One of his all time favorite enrichment items were some pine tree cuttings. He rubbed all over these pine limbs and was soon covered in a mixture of sap and drool, his coat transformed from snowy to muddy. He made a bed underneath the pine limbs and this became his favorite napping spot for several months.

 

Because white footed servals and white servals are rare, people will pay to see them, so breeders will inbreed to get the defective genes that produce the un natural coat color. They cannot survive in the wild because they could not hide from predators and cannot sneak up on prey even if they did manage to survive to adulthood. They do not live where it snows. There are only a handful of white footed servals in the world and only two white servals that are known to exist. These are not albinos as they have pale blue to green eyes and some golden patches. They are born and mature approximately 20% larger than the normal colored servals. For the first year, their health is much more delicate and we have never known of white serval females to survive more than two weeks. We will not sell (although we’ve been offered $75,000.00 each) nor allow others to breed to our white servals because we do not want them to be exploited and the only way we can control that is to control their offspring. The demand for white tigers causes many of the normal colored cubs, born to these litters, to be destroyed. We will not be a part of anything that could cause the same to happen to golden colored servals. We do not breed cats, nor sell cats at Big Cat Rescue.

 

white serval kittenMost of our servals were rescued from people who got them as pets and were not prepared for the fact that male or female, altered or not, they all spray buckets of urine when they become adults. Some were being sold at auction where taxidermists would buy them and club them to death in the parking lot, but a few were born here in the early days when we were ignorant of the truth and were being told by the breeders and dealers that these cats should be bred for “conservation.” Once we learned that there are NO captive breeding programs that actually contribute to conservation in the wild we began neutering and spaying our cats in the mid 1990’s.  Knowing what we do about the intelligence and magnificence of these creatures we do not believe that exotic cats should be bred for lives in cages.

 

More Links About Tonga:

** May 3, 2014 – Walkabout Video has some footage of Tonga enjoying a bath: http://bigcatrescue.org/now-big-cat-rescue-may-3-2014/

** August 29, 2013 – Walkabout Video has footage of Tonga: http://bigcatrescue.org/today-big-cat-rescue-aug-29-2013/

** How do you vaccinate wild cats without sedating them or getting bitten? http://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-may-2/

** Photos of Tonga getting a check up: http://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-oct-19/

** See some photos of Tonga watching a tour go by: http://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-sept-15-2/

** This page has a photo of Tonga after he managed to turn his e-collar upside down: http://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-nov-3/

** Quick thinking and quick action saved Tonga’s life: http://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-dec-21-2012-a-new-era/

** This page has a photo of Tonga in the cat hospital watching the Cat Sitter DVD: http://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-aug-27-3/

** July 2011 Advocat Newsletter – There is a little tidbit about Tonga on this page, as well as, LOTS of other good stuff: http://bigcatrescue.org/advocat-news-2011-07/

Pharaoh

Pharaoh

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Pharaoh

Male White Serval
DOB 4/22/99

 

Pharaoh’s coat is snow white and his spots are a silvery gray, just like his brother Tonga, although he has two unusual dark yellow spots and one black spot on his shoulder and his hind leg. There was a time when we believed that breeding exotic cats would save them from extinction and while that may be true we later concluded that it was not our right to impose captivity upon another creature to ensure that it would be here for the benefit of man. We ceased intentional breeding of all of our cats in 1997 and have long since managed to spay, neuter or separate all of our animals to prevent any accidental births.

Pharaoh was born at Big Cat Rescue before we knew any better back in the 1990s and his parents are Nairobi and Frosty. When we first began we only had the guidance of those who bred and sold cats and believed that what they said was true. We started breeding some cats under the misguided notion that this was a way to “preserve the species.” We had not then figured out what seems so obvious to us today, that breeding for life in a cage an animal that was meant to roam free was inherently cruel. Pharaoh’s parents Frosty and Nairobi, have since been neutered and spayed.  We didn’t know it at the time, but they must have been closely related.

Pharaoh is very timid and only likes a select few people. He is however always curious of passerby’s. In order to gain Pharaoh’s trust of a greater number of keepers he participates in the operant conditioning program. He is doing very well in the program and quickly learned to keep a look out for trainers as they head out in the morning. If he is passed by he will call out in his loud serval cry as if to say, “What about me?”. Pharaoh always puts a smile on keeper’s faces with his silly antics. He will burst through the high grasses of his enclosure to surprise keepers cleaning his Cat.a.tat and then quickly hop back into the grass before tearing around the corner and leaping on top of his cave den. Pharaoh also loves water and will spend hours swatting at a stream of water shot out of the hose.

Because white footed servals and white servals are rare, people will pay to see them, so breeders will inbreed to get the defective genes that produce the un natural coat color. They cannot survive in the wild because they could not hide from predators and cannot sneak up on prey even if they did manage to survive to adulthood. They do not live where it snows. There are only a handful of white footed servals in the world and only two white servals that are known to exist. These are not albinos as they have pale blue to green eyes and some golden patches. They are born and mature approximately 20% larger than the normal colored servals. For the first year, their health is much more delicate and we have never known of white serval females to survive more than two weeks. We will not sell (although we’ve been offered $75,000.00 each) nor allow others to breed to our white servals because we do not want them to be exploited and the only way we can control that is to control their offspring. The demand for white tigers causes many of the normal colored cubs, born to these litters, to be destroyed. We will not be a part of anything that could cause the same to happen to golden colored servals. We do not breed cats, nor sell cats at Big Cat Rescue.

Sponsor Pharaoh http://big-cat-rescue.myshopify.com/products/serval-sponsorship

 

See More About Pharaoh:

A water moccasin threatens Gale and Pharaoh the white serval in this Wildcat Walkabout Video on May 1, 2014 – http://bigcatrescue.org/now-big-cat-rescue-may-2-2014/

See a video of Pharaoh shredding toilet paper: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=agVnhrFD3ww

Most of our servals were rescued from people who got them as pets and were not prepared for the fact that male or female, altered or not, they all spray buckets of urine when they become adults. Some were being sold at auction where taxidermists would buy them and club them to death in the parking lot, but a few were born here in the early days when we were ignorant of the truth and were being told by the breeders and dealers that these cats should be bred for “conservation.” Once we learned that there are NO captive breeding programs that actually contribute to conservation in the wild we began neutering and spaying our cats in the mid 1990’s.  Knowing what we do about the intelligence and magnificence of these creatures we do not believe that exotic cats should be bred for lives in cages. Read more about our Evolution of Thought HERE

Pharaoh the white serval Pharaoh the white serval Pharaoh the white serval

 

 

 

Now at Big Cat Rescue Feb 13 2015

Now at Big Cat Rescue Feb 13 2015

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Fun Photos on Friday the 13th

DBC-2015-01-20 14.19.16

Andi Bobcat up in her tree at Big Cat Rescue

Family-Dad-2015-02-06 15.14.27

Vernon Stairs posts new tour sign at Big Cat Rescue

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Little Dove Bobcat peeks out of her den at Big Cat Rescue

DBC-2015-01-20 14.55.15

Natasha Lynx enjoys a spice bag a few weeks ago at Big Cat w

Aspen Echo Cougar strikes a pose at Big Cat Rescue

DBC-2015-01-20 14.56.50

Aspen Echo looks so regal in front of her cave den at Big Cat Rescue

DBC-2015-01-20 14.57.05

Do you look at your cat, with half closed eye, to show your love?

DBC-2015-01-20 15.03.04

Tonga the White Serval still doing well, years after cancer was removed from his nose.

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Tonga the White Serval gets ready for his role as the Easter Bunny

DBC-2015-01-20 15.06.03

Mickey the cougar, who had torn ACLs in both back legs will get second surgery soon.

DBC-2015-01-20 15.08.58

Mickey the cougar has improved in his ability to use the knee repaired by Dr. Callum Hay.

DBC-2015-01-20 15.09.06

A big shout out from Mickey Cougar to everyone who helped him get the first surgery.

DBC-2015-01-20 15.09.07

…and a plea, from Mickey Cougar to help fund the second ACL surgery.

DBC-2015-01-20 15.11.14

Angelica Bobcat caught just before breaking into a huge yawn.

DBC-2015-01-20 15.12.18

Thurston and Lovey napping in their tree house at Big Cat Rescue.

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Genie Sandcat sees no reason to leave her heated Skippy Bed for the photographer.

DBC-2015-01-21 14.01.34

Narla Cougar regrets the cat nip binge from last night at Big Cat Rescue.

DBC-2015-01-27 10.47.25

Gale Ingham shows a painting of Windsong Bobcat by Intern Julia Doane.

DBC-2015-01-27 14.31.31

Canvas prints of our cats were donated by Vanessa Fernandez & family for sale in our gift shop.

DBC-2015-01-27 14.31.42

The gorgeous canvas prints hang in the office as they sell one at a time in the gift shop.

DBC-2015-01-27 14.31.54

The eyes over the door are not for sale, but the beautiful leopard on the right is.

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See which ones are still available at www.BigCatRescue.biz

DBC-2015-01-27 14.32.37

This is the staff meeting room at Big Cat Rescue.

DBC-2015-01-27 14.32.46

Our Keepers all wear radios while on property and these radio speakers are in & on the buildings.

DBC-2015-02-02 15.30.44

Jennifer Leon and our Legislative Interns keep this area looking nice where guests are able to speak out for the cats.

DBC-Ariel-Bobcat-2015-01-20 15.01.25

Ariel Bobcat has been moved from rehab to her permanent cage, but is still a little shy.

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Moms and kittens enjoy the expert care by our Interns in the FosteringIsCool.com program.

Family-2015-01-17 14.55.23

Vern uses a drill, found by Dr. Justin and Jamie, to tie on the 9 gauge wires.

Family-2015-01-17 14.55.27

Doing that by hand would just wring your wrists off!

Family-Dad-2015-02-06 14.54.05

Vern attaches the sign to the front of the Windsong Memorial Hospital.

DBC-2015-01-20 14.20.34

Andi Bobcat does her best hoot owl im-purr-sonation.

Today at Big Cat Rescue Dec 23 2012

Today at Big Cat Rescue Dec 23 2012

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Tonga Begins to Eat Off a Stick

 

King Tut Gets a Pyramid with a View

 

 

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Today at Big Cat Rescue Dec 23 2012