Sick tiger cub gets rescued from circus, makes incredible recovery and finds love
This 9-month-old Bengal tiger was so sick, she weighed 30 pounds when she was supposed to weigh around 120.
This is Aasha.
Vicky Keahey, founder of Texas' In-Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue and Educational Center, first learned this startling fact in March 2011 through her U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspector, who was concerned about Aasha and wanted to transfer her into Keahey's care.
"I asked how could a 9-month-old tiger be that small," Keahey told The Dodo. As Keahey learned more, Aasha's sad story came together piece by piece — painting the scene for an all-too-familiar scene: Aasha belonged to a traveling circus. She shared a cage with a much larger tiger, who frequently picked on her.
The USDA inspector explained that, during a recent investigation, it was discovered the animals at the circus weren't receiving proper care, noting that there was something particularly wrong with Aasha.
Keahey agreed to take her in and, as soon as she saw Aasha in person, she knew exactly what plagued the young tiger cub: ringworm.
"Aasha's bald spots covered almost her entire body and her skin was dry [with] cracked, darken areas and bleeding," Keahey said. She also had open wounds, which Keahey assumed were bite marks from the larger tiger she lived with.
A trip to the veterinarian confirmed Aasha's ringworm, and she was taken to an isolated enclosure at In-Sync Exotics.
"Every day, twice a day, I would go in and give Aasha medications and spend time with her," Keahey said. "I knew I was going to have to handle her in order to get her well."
Aasha also received a special medicated bath daily, which she wasn't exactly thrilled about — Keahey said she ran away, forcing Keahey to chase after her. But soon the cub started to enjoy them and learned she was quite the swimmer!
"After eight weeks of treatments you could see little bits of fuzz growing back to [what once] bald spots," Keahey said.
"By the time the treatments were over, Aasha loved the water so I put a small tub in [her enclosure] for her to splash in," she said.
"Within eight months she looked like a real tiger!"
Once Aasha was strong and healthy, they decided that it was time to see how she would react to other tigers.
"We loaded her up and put her right next door to Smuggler. He went crazy for her and was always showing off for her," she said.
Sparks flew, and Aasha and Smuggler did not hide their attraction towards one another.
They got to know each other better through supervised playdates, until they were ready to move into the same enclosure together.
Four years later, these two are inseparable. Smuggler is quite the gentleman.
"Aasha is still about half Smuggler's size, but he knows when to steer clear of her," she continued.
Aasha has transformed to an abused and neglected tiger cub, to a playful confident tigress. She's found love in her dedicated care givers, a healthy relationship with Smuggler, and yes... she still loves baths!
Watch Aasha and Smuggler playing in the video below!
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via the Dodo
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