Colorado: Tiger dies after surgery

POSTED: 4:24 pm MDT April 16, 2007
UPDATED: 4:31 pm MDT April 16, 2007

KEENSEBURG, Colo. — A Bengal tiger with a deformed leg that was treated last month by veterinary surgeons at the University of Missouri-Columbia has died.

The tiger named Sulley recently had returned to his home at the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, northeast of Denver, to heal from the surgery that had reoriented his leg bones, with the hope that he eventually would walk without limping.

Sulley had been abused as a cub, and surgeons said his condition was comparable to rickets. Malnutrition had caused his bones to become deformed, and it was increasingly hard for his front legs to support his body, which brought on joint malformations, arthritis and pain.

Toni Scalera, a spokeswoman for the sanctuary, said Sulley’s death Saturday night was related to complications after the surgery. Orthopedic hardware was not able to support his size and weight during recovery, according to a news release from the sanctuary.

However, surgeons said that without the surgery, his condition would have worsened and he would probably have been put to sleep within a year.

“Every possible option was considered by the sanctuary and Sulley’s doctors to save his life,” Scalera said.

Sulley once traveled the fair and carnival circuit with four other tiger cubs.

When the cubs became too large, they were sold to a New Orleans handler who kept the animals in his car and displayed them in parking lots. Two of the cubs died under his care, and the local chapter of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals rescued the others in 2004, according to the University of Missouri-Columbia.


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