Rescued tiger dies at Turpentine Creek

Thursday, January 31, 2019

One of the six male tigers that Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge recently rescued from an Oklahoma facility has died, the refuge said in a news release.

After traveling 700 miles round-trip, a team arrived back at the refuge on Thursday, Jan. 17, with two white striped tigers, a pure-white tiger, a Golden Tabby tiger and two orange tigers in tow. Tommie, Frankie, Robbie, Tigger and Floyd appeared to be in good health, aside from being overweight and potential genetic health issues.

One tiger, Diesel, was suffering from an infection and was immediately taken to TCWR’s onsite veterinary hospital for treatment and further diagnosis. Staff veterinarian Dr. Kellyn started him on antibiotics and pain medication the Thursday he arrived. By Monday, tests revealed that Diesel was not recovering.

“We had hoped to see an increase in his platelet count, or at the very least, that it was holding steady at the number it was Thursday,” said animal curator Emily McCormack. “His body was continuing to lose cells; this confirmed that we were fighting a losing battle.”

Diesel’s red blood count was at 10 percent Thursday with the normal range being 30-52 percent, and by Monday, it had dropped to 7.8 percent despite treatment. At 5 percent, his body would no longer be able to function.

“We can’t allow an animal to suffer,” McCormack stated. “We had to let him go.”

Diesel passed away Monday afternoon. A Facebook post made by the organization said,“…in a room full of people who had quickly fallen in love with him over several days, we let him peacefully slip away.”

The post also explained that Dr. Kellyn felt Diesel’s death “appeared to be the result of a blood pathogen transmitted through ticks and/or fleas,” and was later specified as “feline infectious anemia,” which attacks the red blood cells that carry oxygen.

Because he fell ill before coming to the Refuge, TCWR says it will be monitoring the other five tigers from the rescue for symptoms of the same pathogen.

In an earlier video posted to Facebook, McCormack revealed that all of the tigers were survivors of the cub petting industry. They were set to be destroyed by a different owner once they surpassed the legal age to be handled; the facility TCWR obtained them from took them in from that owner before that could happen. The director of the facility then contacted TCWR on Monday, Jan. 14, when he found out he was being evicted from the property.

In the statement released digitally regarding Diesel’s death, TCWR wrote, “Diesel and his five friends were born into the cub petting industry; their fates were decided upon conception. While we do our best to save as many survivors of the exotic pet trade as possible, we aren't always in time. The only way we can save them all is to put an end to this heartless industry. If you haven't educated yourself on the exploitation of exotic animals in our country, please do so today.”

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