HEMET: Abandoned tiger cub found in Hemet dies at wildlife sanctuary

A 6-month-old Bengal-Siberian tiger cub found roaming the streets of Hemet last September died at a San Diego area animal sanctuary after suffering respiratory failure during a routine veterinary procedure, wildlife officials announced today.

When he was found, the 3-month-old tiger cub, named Himmel, was severely malnourished, de-clawed and suffering from an umbilical hernia. Based on his medical needs, the Department of Fish & Wildlife asked the Alpine-based Lions, Tigers and Bears sanctuary in San Diego to provide a safe haven for the cub to recover.

When the abandoned cub first arrived at LTB, sanctuary officials knew the animal had potential underlying health issues. However, LTB said staffers thought that with care and proper nutrition, the once-frail, 25-pound cub could grow into an active tiger. Still, animal care experts knew the cub had a long and difficult future ahead of him.

Himmel, who was 3 months old when he was found wandering the streets of Hemet has died during a routine medical procedure.

Himmel, who was 3 months old when he was found wandering the streets of Hemet has died during a routine medical procedure.

“As happy as he was, we knew he still had a hard road ahead of him, with his nutritional issues and pain everyday from cruelly being de-clawed,” LTB founder Bobbi Brink said. “We had concerns that he had other underlying issues, but through attentive care, proper nutrition and an enriching diet, Himmel appeared to be morphing from a frail cub into a young tiger with a playful personality and a full life ahead of him.”

Himmel was undergoing medical procedures to be neutered and to have his hernia repaired last week when he suffered respiratory failure and died. Sanctuary officials believed Himmel likely suffered a severe allergic reaction when given vaccines during the procedure.

“It is with a heavy heart and incredible sadness that we must share with you the news that Himmel has tragically passed away,” LTB officials wrote in a press release.

According to Brink, under the lead of LTB’s veterinarian, Dr. Jane Meier, “The surgery went well and was uneventful. As Himmel was transitioning into surgical recovery, he suffered profound respiratory failure and collapse. Despite the best resuscitation efforts of the veterinary team and animal care staff, Himmel did not recover.”

“This is the most serious type of allergic reaction and is often fatal. It is the same kind of reaction cause by peanut allergies in people and can happen so quickly and severely that even aggressive treatment is ineffective,” sanctuary officials added.

“With any decision to perform medical procedures, the risks and benefits must always be weighed,” Brink said.

Himmel's discovery wandering the city streets made national headlines.

Himmel’s discovery wandering the city streets made national headlines.

“Along with our medical team, we make our decisions based on careful planning and the information we have at the time, always putting the animal’s health and well-being first and foremost,” Brink explained. “The sudden loss of Himmel is a stark reminder of how even after thoughtful and thorough consideration of the benefits and hazards, you can never completely eliminate the risks of a medical procedure.”

Brink called the death “one of the tragic consequences” from captive breeding of exotic animals. “With no family history to reference, it is hard to know whether animals like Himmel have underlying issues,” she said.


Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com



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