Kimba was rescued on May 27th, 2014, along with Zeus and Keisha.... Read about the rescue here: http://bigcatrescue.org/jnk/
We knew almost nothing about Kimba, except that she was literally starving to death in NY and that we weren't even sure she would make it through the day that we loaded her into a transport and gave her food and water for the first time in who knows how long...
She and her two family members were all starving and dehydrated and drank 8 gallons of water between them in the first 24 hours. As soon as they arrived at Big Cat Rescue we began offering food and Zeus ate like there was no tomorrow, but Keisha and Kimba were shy about it, so we couldn't be sure if they were coming into the feeding area at night.
Within a few days, Keisha overcame her shyness and would eat while Keepers were present, but Kimba was still not eating a lot like the other two. We weren't sure if she was just more shy, or if she had been starved for so long that she just couldn't eat as much at any given time, so we started feeding her several times a day. She would eat a couple bites, off a long stick, but then no more. She was seen drinking regularly, so we just did all we could to increase her food intake, in the hopes that we could build up her strength enough to sedate her and look for anything else that may be going on.
Maybe she had bad teeth and eating was painful? Maybe she had tumors or an obstruction that was keeping her from eating? Maybe she had some disease? Some things you just can't tell by looking at a tiger, no matter how well trained your eyes.
We had noticed that she was missing much of the fur from around her rump, and thought it was from sitting in her own feces in her den in New York, which was the only place she could site that wasn't on rocks.
We wondered if the heat was too much for her, even though she had a pool and the day we rescued her it was the same temp as what we have hearer in Florida..... We have overhead sprinklers so we turned those on for her.
Her exam showed that her teeth were fine and there weren't any palpable tumors or obstructions but her blood work showed that she had a urinary tract infection and that her kidneys were in failure. Sometimes a UTI can make kidney values worse than they really are, so we began treatment for the UTI with antibiotics and fluids. At her advanced age, if there was any chance of turning this around, she had to get injections twice a day and 5 liters of fluids.
To do that we had to keep her in a transport wagon in the Cat Hospital and that worked for a couple of days because Kimba didn't feel good enough to try and get away from us as we tended to her feeding, watering, brushing out the dense and dead Siberian coat (with a long handled back scratcher), and washing her down with the hose to keep her cool and clean.
She would let us get about 3 liters of fluids in her before objecting and moving away and that isn't something you can force a tiger to endure. Repeated sedation would kill her for sure and add to the toxicity that her kidneys were trying to purify as well.
It looked like, no matter what we did, she was going to die. The question was, would she do so in a tiny cage, after days or weeks of being poked with needles, or would she do so in comfort?
Since close confinement wasn't working so well, and she seemed to be in better spirits, we decided to let her back into her yard in the hopes that she would drink enough on her own and yet still come to the side of the cage to get her meds, either in her food, or via injection.
Her first day back outside she was SO happy! You can see her pouncing around on her platforms here: http://bigcatrescue.org/now-big-cat-rescue-june-12-2014/
But she wouldn't take the meds in food and wouldn't come to the side of the cage to be injected.
Along with our vets we weighed the pros and cons and decided that Kimba had overcome death for the past couple of weeks through little more than her strong will and now that she was giving up it should be on her terms in a setting that she chose.
It took us several hours and many tears to make that decision, but her necropsy showed that it was the right one for Kimba; no matter how hard it had been for us.
Four days after making the decision to euthanize Kimba we got the lab reports back and they showed that Kimba's UTI was complicated by E. coli, from the filthy conditions she was forced to live in, and that the drug we were using was the best drug for her infection. That both broke our hearts, because Kimba wouldn't have been so ill if her former owner had just cared enough to keep her cage clean, and gave us some peace in knowing that we were doing all that was medically possible for Kimba, and that if she had not responded to the drugs by now, she wasn't going to...
Kimba • 1994 - 2014 • Rest In Peace