Vets at Oregon State conduct emergency surgery on white Bengal tiger

    Veterinarians at Oregon State University conducted a CT scan and emergency surgery on a white Bengal tiger. (OSU)

    CORVALLIS, Ore. – A team of veterinarians treated a rare white Bengal tiger at Oregon State University’s Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine on Friday.

    The 17-year-old tiger named Nora lives at WildCat Ridge Sanctuary in Scotts Mills, south of Molalla.

    Nora had been under the weather for a few weeks - and the symptoms didn't point to a specific diagnosis, according to Cheryl Tuller, the sanctuary's executive director.

    “She just wasn’t herself. I was in a panic,” Tuller said. “I had to make sure she was OK.”

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    An ultrasound at a vet's office in Lake Oswego was inconclusive.

    The vet recommended Oregon State.

    Nora arrived Friday at the teaching hospital in Corvallis.

    The medical team of Dr. Marianne Pan, the case manager and an internal medicine resident; veterinary surgeon Dr. Katy Townsend; anesthesiologist Dr. Ronald Mandsager; and surgery resident Dr. Lea Mehrkens conducted a diagnostic CT scan - and emergency surgery.

    According to Oregon State:

    Exotic animals such as Nora are rare patients at the teaching hospital. Townsend’s previous experience with cats was domestic felines and one cougar, though large cats have similar anatomy and respond to treatment much the same way as a house cat would.

    “The biggest thing for us is logistics,” said Townsend. “Can we sedate her safely? Can she fit into the CT machine? It’s a matter of ensuring Nora’s safety and all of our safety as well.”

    The medical team conducted the scan - and determined Nora had pyometra, a life-threatening infection of the uterus. The infection occurs in 5 to 17 percent of captive large felines, Townsend said.

    The team had to move fast:

    If the infected organs aren’t removed in time, they can rupture and cause sepsis. While Nora was still anesthetized, Townsend performed an ovariohysterectomy, removing all of the tiger’s reproductive organs.

    Nora went home that evening to the sanctuary. The tiger is recovering from her surgery, Tuller from WildCat said.

    “Dr. Townsend was fantastic,” Tuller said. “Nora seems to be doing fine. We’re keeping a close eye on her.”

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