An Interesting Recent Case

A 5 year old Bengal tiger had been feed a whole chicken. Within 24 hrs the tiger developed persistant vomiting. No stool was passed after the vomiting began. The tiger was very used to people around its cage and had become quite inquisitive. So much so that it was not possible to dart the animal because it was TOO CLOSE. A rare occurance in wildlife medicine.

The tiger was distracted by its owner for a better darting position. The tiger, "Harley" was estimated to weight 150 lbs and was given 300mg Telazol by dart. His actual weight was 135 lbs. Expolatory surgery found the pylorus blocked with the remains of the chicken. Gastrostomy was perfomed and the stomach emptied. Closure was routine. No antibiotics were given post op. The tiger was kept NPO for 48 hrs and then returned to small soft meals of ground chicken carcasses for 2 weeks.

The most common problems I see in exotic carnivores, stem from inadequate diet. Most people belive that an all meat diet is what carnivores eat in the wild. If you watch these animals after a kill, the first thing the do is open the abdoman and eat the the intestines and liver. What is in the intestines???? Grass and other vegetable matter. This is where carnivores get their "salad". The liver contains a miriad of vitamins as well. This salad and vitamins will all be missed in an all meat diet.

Although whole carcass feeding of exotic carnivores is best, they must be in a form that will not cause GI obstructions. Exotic felines are known to swallow more than their GI system can handle. This is not seen in canids. I suggest exotic feline owners conatct a local mink ranch and buy ground whole carcasses of poultry, swine, calves or roadkill deer. The rumen is the only organ I suggest be removed from the carcass before grinding. The reso of the carcass, hooves, horns, skin, intestines, liver and all should be ground. This can theen be packaged into meal-sized container for the exotics and kept frozen until use. It may be fed to the animal while still frozen, allowing them to chew off a bit at a time. There are commercially available frozen ground whole carcass diets when a mink ranch is not a viable alternative.