Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Memories of Tarzan: Tarzan's health check

Posted: 22 January 2010. Updated: 22 January 2010


During routine checks of our big cats at the ADI Rescue Centre, resident vet Brett Gardner had become concerned as to the health of Tarzan the tiger.

Following days of ongoing observations the decision was taken to do a full veterinary examination which would provide an opportunity to inspect Tarzan, as Brett had concerns that Tarzan was looking slightly uncomfortable on his hind legs. Suspicions grew that the suspected arthritis in his hind legs was worsening due to the oncoming winter. Arthritis is an all too familiar ailment for animals who have been subjected to years in the circus.

With unsurprising simplicity, Brett was able to aim and fire at Tarzan with a direct hit. This relatively easy procedure is largely facilitated by Tarzanís calm and relaxed nature, enabling a quick and stress-free administration of the sedative. Tarzanís exam would be of particular interest, as final year veterinary students would be assisting the senior veterinarian from Hluvukani Clinic, who would be monitoring Tarzan closely throughout the examination, providing a rare opportunity to study up close this endangered species.

Once Tarzan was successfully darted, and his sedation well underway, Brett set to work performing a full range of clinical examinations including a dental exam, blood sampling, and ultrasound. It had been established that Tarzan was in fact older then previously estimated, and ailments relating to his age and background are becoming increasingly visible.

It was found that his kidneys were slightly smaller then anticipated, but this is to be expected of a tiger of 17 years of age. Arthritis was confirmed in both hip joints which, when treated, will cause minimal discomfort.

As to the good news, despite having lost a tooth some time ago the rest of his teeth are in great condition and, all in all, the test results show that he is in pretty good health for an animal of his age. Tarzan was treated for ticks and other parasites and was then given the all important antidote to get him back on his feet.

Thankfully, Tarzan came round quickly from his anaesthetic and was back to normal before too long, although a little disoriented for a short time.

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