Dec 13 2016

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Keeper's Log

Priya Tiger is back out in the wooden deck section near tigers and is eating and taking her meds.  She seems calm and we are cautiously optimistic for a full recovery.

Cats are amazing!  Their ability to heal themselves, and others, is beyond compare.  Priya Tigress arrived with a 20 lb infection in her uterine horns and we removed it the next day, but her infection was resistant to the array of antibiotics we tried.  Her body was so seeped in the bacteria that her stitches could not hold and she had to undergo surgery again to seal the wound.  Meanwhile the bacteria was cultured and we found a better antibiotic for it and began treatment.

Priya did better, and we thought she was healing because she was no longer seeping from the incision and her appetite and temperament improved immensely.  However, a week before she was to be released back to her earthen floored enclosure, keepers noted a pink slit in the stitches.  Due to her baggy belly folding on either side of the gap, it was hard to get a photo of it to see the extent.  Priya seemed be getting more and more uncomfortable and began to refuse food unless coaxed extensively.

I noticed a change in her sleeping habits.  She began to sleep on her back, with legs splayed wide.  It gave me a better opportunity to get a photo of the opening incision, which led our vet team to decide that surgery was again needed to close the wound.  What I didn’t know at the time was Priya’s wisdom in dealing with her own injury.

We went into surgery thinking it would be a minor issue of putting in a couple of stitches to close the gap again, but what Dr. Justin Boorstein saw, made him say that her prognosis of survival was not good.  He was clearly distressed when he saw that the tissues had separated to the point that air was seeping into the open layer between her skin and her muscle.  When he invited me to touch her skin and feel the crackling of it, as the air was compressed beneath my touch, I was horrified.  I’d never felt anything so foreign to the feel of a sleekly muscled and furred cat.

The air, and any impurity in it, was filling her body and making it even harder for the antibiotics to work; making it harder for Priya to call on her own immune system to heal.  Then it dawned on me that she was laying on her back to try and force the air back out, through the hole in her belly where it had entered.  There was no other way out.  Standing, sitting or laying in a normal cat load style would not help her express the air that was building up under her skin and causing her so much discomfort.  How amazing!

Surgery lasted about an hour and a half and by the end Dr Boorstein was somewhat more encouraged that she may survive.  During the first repair, the week or so after her original surgery, he could reach his arms into the gap up to his elbows.  Now he could only reach in to his wrists.  She was healing, but ever so slowly.  He also found the tissue to be healthier than he had expected, so there is good reason to think it can bond fully this time.  Only time will tell, but thanks to our expert vets, on site hospital, excellent equipment and the loving care of the volunteers, Priya has a good chance of living a long healthy life at Big Cat Rescue.

When Gabrielle and Priya arrived from Big Cats of Serenity Springs in Nov. 2016, both were obese, but their bellies looked particularly distended.  When we found that to be a 20 lb hydrometra in Priya, we feared we would find the same in Gabrielle when she was examined on Dec 12, 2016.  Thankfully, after running blood work, urinalysis, X-rays and a sonogram that was guided by our remote assistants at Oncura Partners, we discovered that she was just fat and not suffering an infection that required the removal of her uterus.  She’s going to be twenty next month, so that wasn’t a surgery we wanted to do if we could avoid it.  Gabrielle was able to go back out to her enclosure, and only has to recover from the wooziness of sedation and a very unstylish shave of her belly fur.

Transport crates are always in short supply when there is a rescue to be done.  We are often called upon by other sanctuaries, and the drivers of the big rigs who haul the cats to their permanent homes, to use our tiger transport wagons.  We have three of them, but one belongs to ADI and has no wheels, so it requires a forklift at both ends of the transaction, which is almost never an option.  We have one that has been broken and fixed so many times we don’t think it’s safe to use again.  We have one that is probably 30 years old (or more) that weighs a thousand pounds and has also been repaired a number of times.

When Gabrielle and Priya both needed to see the vets on the same day the lack of transport wagons was a big factor.  We couldn’t bring Priya into the hospital until Gabrielle was awake enough to exit the transport wagon into her enclosure.  That meant that three of the four vets had to go back to their places of employment after Gabrielle was done, leaving Dr Boorstein alone to deal with Priya.  His day started with Gabrielle at 10 am and went on until well after dark with Priya.  If we had two transport wagons we could have eliminated several hours of waiting.

Our tiger transporters, Laura and JT of Loving Friends, have worked with Tammy at Wildcat Sanctuary to come up with plans for a transport wagon that they say will cost $5,500 with the caveat that these things never come in on budget.  They’ve had crates built before, but being they were aluminum they were not tiger proof.  These plans are for steel with no milling required, which adds a lot to the cost.  I’m guessing we can get one for about $7,000 with whatever modifications end up raising the price.  We really need six, as this is all that will fit on the hauling rig, but can get by with two.

If you’d like to help provide the life saving transport wagons that are used here all the time for medical purposes and during the rescue missions please donate at:

Note that this donation page talks about the rescues AND the transport wagon needs.


Kathryn's Note to Keepers

Gabby was sedated, but she did not get spayed so she went back out to her enclosure. Priya was sedated to fix her incision again. There are new meds for both of them.

I made half diets for Hoover and TJ, boneless chicken was frozen so just did what they usually eat in the morning. buckets are labeled.

No progress was made on projects, extra people were helping with the surgery or doing tours. We barely had enough people for the 3 pm. Nanci Spires came back to back up a tour.

Megan and Sarah C are switching days off, meg will be off on Tuesday Sarah on wednesday. Meg is going to get her stitches out.

Please remember to have someone water the sod behind the giftshop it is half dead right now.

Priya and Gabby both have diets made. Gabby did not get a rabbit since we weren't sure what she would eat after surgery.

There is a big kids tour tomorrow. Jen and Helena will do one of the tours.

Make sure the work groups are using drop cloths. They are going to finish tomorrow so can start on other projects either tomorrow afternoon or Wednesday. They haven't gotten to do much fun so maybe tomorrow have them come out and watch christmas trees being given out. Media will be here as well so ask first.

We may need large cicles before the weekend keeper tours so if anyone has time (haha) or people please make cicles.

The cooler guys came today. They installed a on/off switch on the front of the blower. I also had him turn it up just a bit so the meat should thaw a little faster.  I think that is it!!  Have a good week!


Sapphire Tiger’s First Dip in the Pond

Sapphire’s first dip in the pond on vacation.  Recorded by Susann Mesna via on December 12. 2016.


Global Big Cat News


The Big Five: Peter Jackson, 90, helped to save Indian tigers.


Take Action for Florida Panthers

As of Saturday, six (6) panthers have been killed by vehicle strikes in LESS THAN ONE MONTH. In addition, five (5) were killed in October! Something needs to be done before the panthers are completely wiped out by roadkills.

More people moving to Florida (approximately 803 per day) means more cars and wider roads. In Lee and Collier Counties, earlier this year, during a two-day traffic enforcement of the 45 mph nighttime speed limit in designated “Panther Zone” areas, FWC officers in cooperation with local police, reported giving out 101 tickets, 56 warnings and 10 misdemeanor citations. The vehicles they stopped included some that were traveling between 81 and 103 mph!

Please contact all FWC Commissioners at once using the link below and ask them to please initiate additional traffic enforcement of the 45 mph nighttime speed limit in panther zones. Thank you!




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