Cassie, a 3-year-old Bengal tiger at the Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary, underwent spay surgery May 14 at the Prescott Animal Hospital Equine Surgical Center.
Local vets perform surgery on Bengal tiger
Friday, June 12, 2009
Veterinarians spay or neuter animals every day. But for Dr. Ken Skinner and the staff at Prescott Animal Hospital, the patient on the operating table May 14 was a little out of the ordinary.
Dr. Skinner and his team spayed one of the newest residents at the Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary – Cassie, a 3-year-old Bengal tiger.
Heritage Park Executive Director Pam McLaren said spaying a 300-pound tiger requires a lot of planning.
“It was a big ordeal, simply because of Cassie’s size. Dr. Skinner came to the sanctuary to walk through the entire procedure, and then we made a dry run of transporting Cassie to the Equine Surgical Center, where Dr. Skinner performed the surgery.
“We knew where she was going to be on the table and where we would park,” Dr. Skinner said.
Unlike housecats, whose owners bring them to the veterinarian’s office awake and in a carrier, Cassie required anesthetizing at the sanctuary in order to move her.
Dr. Skinner rode with her in a horse trailer to and from the surgical center to ensure that no problems arose with the anesthesia, or in case she needed more anesthesia.
Cassie’s surgery lasted about 90 minutes
Dr. Skinner said that while it was exciting operating on a Bengal tiger, “It is really just a difference in size. The biggest issue is transporting and anesthesia.”
The vet said that while the Prescott Animal Hospital cares for all the animals at the sanctuary, “it is not every day we get to operate on a tiger. It is not every day anyone gets to operate on a tiger.”
McLaren said that while the actual procedure was similar to any other spaying, Cassie’s size presented obstacles.
“It took three men to pull her diaphragm open,” McLaren said.
Dr. Skinner said the reasons for spaying Cassie are the same for a small cat or dog: behavioral changes while in heat, prevention of mammary or uterine cancer and prevention of uterine infection.
“Spaying was for her long-term health,” Dr. Skinner said.
Dr. Skinner gave Cassie her annual physical while she was asleep. He drew blood and checked her skin, hair, eyes and teeth.
Doctors Mark Anderson and Rick Smith assisted with the surgery.
McLaren said Cassie recovered nicely and is back on display at the sanctuary.