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Cat of the Month
Precious
Precious was rescued from the performing industry summer 2014. She can be shy at first, but once you get to know her she is extremely sweet and gentle. Sadly, her eyes are crossed as a result of inbreeding in the exotic animal trade. She gets around fine though, despite her handicap! Adopt Precious during the month of October, and you will receive a t-shirt, photo, adoption certificate, and window decal! 
Adoption Success
Thank you to everyone that expressed interest in adopting our recent cat rescues. We were grateful to find homes for all three kittens and one adult cat before the holiday season. Two of the kittens were adopted together and are loving their new home (above)!
Giving Day Campaign
Your donations made this year's Giving Day campaign a great success! In one day, we raised enough money to build two more platforms! You can still get involved by visiting our Giving Grid campaign.  
A big thank you to everyone who has donated so far:
Charolette M.
Susan B.
Ruth S.
Sarah J.
Gina G.
Mike Z.
John & Amy D.
Trisha F.
Tiffany D.
Strausie S.
Martha F.
Donna & Ernest F.
Crystal C.
Amber H.
Natalie W.
Kris K.
Brenda R.
Heather I.
King F.
Peggy K.
Plus all the anonymous donors!
December 2015
Dear Friend,
 
I will never forget the shocking conditions I saw when I arrived at the rescue site of two tigers, Duke and Janina. They lived in a small concrete cage scattered with feet and feathers of dead turkeys. Duke was old and frail, and his hip bones protruded from his thin body. My heart was overwhelmed with sadness, and I focused every effort on withholding my tears.
 
But that sad day marked a new beginning for Duke. Your support provided him with a new life full of love and freedom at National Tiger Sanctuary.
 
We rely on animal advocates like you to make rescues like Duke's a reality. That's why I am asking for your help. Join our mission to save animals by making a one-time or recurring donation. You can feel good about making a generous gift, because 100% of donations go directly to animal care.
 
$9 will feed a leopard for a day
$21 will feed a lion for a day
$33 will feed a tiger for a day 
 
I would like to personally thank you for being a part of our mission. Because of you, we can make the world a better place for animals.
 
Sincerely,  
Abbie Knudsen
Executive Director
In Loving Memory
There is one aspect of our job that stands out as the most difficult - the loss of the animals we love. Even though we know that nearly all of our animals will pass away before we do, it doesn't make our grieving lighter or easier. 

The following memorials are to honor the lives of the "kids" that we lost this year. I write their stories with a very heavy and saddened heart. The love from you, our supporters, is greatly appreciated; it has helped us all carry on another day. 
Vincent
Vincent was one of the Original Five tigers at National Tiger Sanctuary. He and his siblings were not only the first big cats to call National Tiger Sanctuary home, but they were also the inspiration for everything that the sanctuary is today.  

Early this summer, Vincent became suddenly ill. At first, he was lethargic and lost interest in food. We implemented a course of antibiotics in hopes that we were dealing with a brief illness that his body could fight off. Initial results were promising as Vincent's appetite returned, but within a few days he also developed challenges with mobility. His rear legs were weak and walking became very difficult. We began taking daily videos of his movement to monitor the progression of his condition, and we reviewed the footage with our veterinarian.

The next couple months of Vincent's treatment was a roller coaster of good days and bad ones. He would begin to improve and walk better, but then he'd get down for a couple days. We didn't want to give up on him when he was still eating, going outside, and chuffing at us. As long as he could carry out those natural behaviors, we knew that he was still fighting.



We explored a multitude of possibilities that could have been causing Vincent's lack of mobility. Perhaps he had a mass on his spine that was putting pressure on his nerve cord. Maybe he had a herniated disk or other back problem. Sadly, either way his chance for recovery was slipping away. Tigers are much more difficult to care for than domestic cats, due to their size and potential complications of treatment. Even if we could identify a tumor or herniated disk, he was not a good candidate for surgery given his age and condition.  

At the end of June, Vincent got down one last time and could not walk at all on his rear legs. He stopped going outside and could no longer stand to use the bathroom. We knew that his quality of life had significantly deteriorated, and we didn't want him to suffer. He was surrounded by the people that loved him the most when he passed away on July 6, 2015.    

Upon Vincent's passing, his blood work showed signs of kidney disease. Even if we could have helped him walk again, it would have only been a matter of time before he entered kidney failure. We're glad that he did not have to endure that, but we miss him terribly.   

Vincent lived 14 wonderful years and was loved for his gentle giant attitude. We will never forget his friendly sounds that reminded us of a mooing cow. Thank you for sharing his love and life with us.  
Duke
Duke was rescued from deplorable conditions right here in our home state of Missouri. His owners had accumulated thousands of dollars in fines for inadequate animal care when they finally agreed to let their tigers be rehomed to National Tiger Sanctuary in 2014.

When we brought Duke home, he was old, thin, and frail. Of course, we had no medical records or history to help us learn about his previous conditions or veterinary care (probably because he really never had any). We were worried that he may not recover from the years of neglect, but we were going to try anything we could for him.

His first evening home, we gave Duke a small meal to see how he would respond. He regurgitated the food almost immediately, but he was so hungry from being underfed that he quickly re-ate the food. He couldn't keep anything down, and regurgitated the same bite of food over and over. We knew we were dealing with a serious and unusual problem.

We immediately started trying different treatment plans to help Duke eat successfully. We tried medication for an upset stomach, steroids for inflammation, and probiotics for digestive health. Although Duke didn't respond to any of the medications, we had great success by altering his diet. Through many trials, we learned that Duke did best when he ate small, frequent meals consisting of diced meat. We prepared two lbs of tiny meat pieces every two hours, and over a couple months Duke nearly never regurgitated his food. It was miraculous improvement after watching him struggle with every bite of food!

Duke gained weight, his coat improved, and seemed to love everything about life. He enjoyed seeing people and chuffed at everyone - friend or stranger! He frolicked outside in his habitat and adored his companion and neighbor, Janina. Duke was as happy-go-lucky as they come. We were thrilled to watch him thrive - maybe for the first time in his life.

In October, Duke suddenly quit eating and just didn't seem himself. We tried antibiotics but didn't see any improvement. We decided to sedate Duke to do a physical, ultrasound, and draw blood. We learned that Duke's kidneys were failing, and nothing more could be done for him. We told him how much we loved him, and we helped him peacefully pass away.

Our veterinarian performed a necropsy, and we were surprised to find a serious defect in his diaphragm. Duke's diaphragm had a huge hole, and his stomach and digestive tract were in his chest instead of his abdomen. This condition is known as a congenital diaphragmatic hernia. It explained why Duke had such trouble eating and why the small food and meals helped so much. He was lucky to have lived 16 years with such a serious condition.

Duke was a forgiving, loving soul. He gave humans another chance even after all he went through. We are so glad that we could provide Duke with a happy, care-free life before he passed away. We will continue to honor his life by sharing what we learned about his condition with veterinarians, students, and visitors in hopes that it will improve care for another animal with the same ailment.   

With Duke's passing, his companion Janina has carried on in high spirits. Although I'm sure she thinks of her best friend often, she hasn't spent a moment dwelling on his loss. Janina's health has always been much better than Duke's, so we are looking forward to moving her from the special care barn down to the normal tour habitats. She loves people, so we know that it will make her very happy to get extra attention from visitors!

National Tiger Sanctuary | (417) 587-3633 | stripes@nationaltigersanctuary.org
 518 State Highway BB   |  Saddlebrooke, MO 65630