Cincinnati animal hospital helps zoo examine cause of tiger’s seizures

Cincinnati animal hospital helps zoo examine cause of tiger’s seizures
The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden says two-year-old tiger Chira has had periodic seizures over the past several months, so they asked local animal hospital MedVet for help with an MRI to get a better look at her head, neck, and brain.

CINCINNATI, Ohio (FOX19) - That’s a big cat!

Cincinnati veterinarians, and veterinarians across the world, treat cats all the time — they’re just normally not 240 pounds.

MedVet Cincinnati says Chira the Malayan tiger is the largest feline they’ve seen at their animal hospital on Red Bank Road.

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden says the two-year-old tiger has had periodic seizures over the past several months, so they asked the local animal hospital for help with an MRI to get a better look at her head, neck, and brain.

We needed the advanced imaging capabilities that MRI scans produce in order to help rule in or out a physical abnormality in her brain that could be the cause of her seizures,” Cincinnati Zoo Veterinary Director Mark Campbell said. “MedVet agreed to provide equipment and highly trained personnel to help us achieve this goal.”

The zoo says Chira’s MRI scan showed no obvious physical cause, no tumors or brain lesions, which means a surgical fix is not an option.

They say the best way to manage her seizures is with medication.

Chira is being monitored around the clock, on site and with video cameras, and potential hazards have been removed from her environment to avoid injury if she has a seizure, the zoo says.

“Chira has also been separated from her two sisters because their reaction to a seizure is difficult to predict. They could hurt her in the process of trying to help her,” senior Night Hunters keeper Michelle Kuchle, who has cared for the three tigers since they were born says. “Medication reduces but does not eliminate her seizures. We have made visitors aware of her condition and have even asked them to alert staff if they see signs of a seizure.”

MedVet has helped with so many animals, they’re nearly part of the zoo’s family.

The zoo says the Animal Health department has worked with nearly every specialty at MedVet over the years including the cardiology team which performs regular cardiac ultrasound exams on the zoo’s African painted dogs, ophthalmologists who assist with elephants, cheetas, rhinos, and snow leopards, and neurology and radiology with Chira and an aardwolf.

MedVet surgeon Dr. Karl Maritato has provided expertise on cases involving cheetas, lions, wallabies, yellow-backed duiker, prehensile-tailed porcupine and most recently, the removal of a cancerous spleen from one of the zoo’s pygmy slow lorises, they say.

The Cincinnati vets office is not the only medical office that has lent a helping hand over the years.

The zoo says Cincinnati Children’s helped with an aardvark case, The Christ Hospital assisted with a gorilla ultrasound, and dentists, eye doctors, and other specialists make house calls when the zoo reaches out.

“We are fortunate to have great resources and medical practitioners in Cincinnati who are willing to consult on special cases or assist with treatment,” Campbell said. “Nurses from Cincinnati Children’s rushed over to place a life-saving IV in our premature baby hippo, Fiona, when she became severely dehydrated. They have equipment that’s designed to find veins in premature babies. We don’t have that, or an MRI suite, because the frequency of use on animals at the Zoo wouldn’t justify the expense.”

Copyright 2019 WXIX. All rights reserved.