Isabella Tiger and the Wobbly Sister

Carolina Tiger Rescue's oldest and very special tigress Isabella passed away at the end of May, marking a long life and an example of an ideal life in captivity with compassionate veterinary care. Isabella was born with epilepsy, a disease that causes seizures. Having been on phenobarbital for her entire life, Izzy's seizures were suppressed as best as possible. Because this medication does not cure the condition in animals or humans, Izzy was housed alone for concern that a seizure would trigger the prey drive in an enclosure partner and cause injury or worse for Izzy. As one of the friendliest tigers at Carolina Tiger, Isabella received regular showers in the summer (a pool would risk drowning were she to have a seizure) as well as tons of affection from the entire family at Carolina Tiger Rescue. Always ready for a visit, Izzy enjoyed going on "tiger walks" along the fence with friends and has long been considered the sweetest of the tigers at the sanctuary. At nineteen, she was old for any tiger in captivity and especially old compared to the liefespan of tigers in the wild. She suffered a severe bladder infection in December and pulled through, in addition to another scare in March, where she was almost humanely euthanized because she was so ill. However, she recovered from both illnesses and continued to be a happy and elderly lady. With summer fast approaching in hot North Carolina, however, Isabella's health gradually deteriorated in addition to her appetite disappearing. Carolina Tiger Rescue staff found need to humanely end her suffering. Necropsy results showed utera pyometra, which is an infection in the uterus. She had infectious tumors in her uterus that, if they ruptured, would cause a painful death for Izzy. Luckily she did not suffer this. She also was lacking fluid in her pericardial sac (around her heart) and the wheezing it caused would have only worsened and contributed to a painful end. Animals in captivity can suffer lonely and unhealthy lives, or they can enjoy the best accepted practices available. Izzy was one of those tigers because she called Carolina Tiger Rescue home. She was one of my favorite cats at the sanctuary and although I mourned her death, I recognize that death is not unwelcome in the animal world. We as humans are able to offer relief from suffering with medicine, and sometimes euthanasia. Isabella Tiger will remain one of the tigers who was at the sanctuary that helped start my career. I hope that adoptive parents, volunteers, interns and staff continue to care for each animal in the same manner that Izzy was loved at Carolina Tiger Rescue.

Nenya Caracal, affectionally known as one of the two Wobbly Sisters, also passed this moth. Nenya and her sister, Scylla, have a condition called cerebral hypochondroplasia. This condition affects the cats' ability to balance, and as a result they walk in a wobbly manner. This condition is the result of a virus that the mother was probably exposed to when the cats were in vitro. Nenya lost the ability to walk and after a few days the decision was made to humanely euthanize her. Her back legs gave out, and at ten years old, she lived a long and healthy life; just a little wobbly. The Wobbly Girls were in my assigned areas during my internship with Carolina Tiger Rescue, and I enjoyed trying to come up with new ideas for enrichment for the pair. Although Nenya (and Scylla) were physically disabled, they both were still very capable of sticking a paw through the fence to try to tag you (and not in the childhood game fashion). Cats form bonds like humans, so her sister Scylla probably has had to adjust to the absence of her sister, but Carolina Tiger Rescue has reported that she is doing fine (still wobbly).

Carolina Tiger Rescue is one of two legitimate wildlife sanctuaries on the east coast (the other is Big Cat Rescue). Although other facilities house recsued exotics, Carolina Tiger Rescue is one of the models of excellence in exotic animal care. I am thankful to have worked with a facility with such high standards and such amazing animals.

Please continue to follow this blog, as I am beginning the next chapter in my career: bobcat research in Montana!