A cougar had to undergo two operations after it was rescued from a backyard zoo.
Mickey the cougar was unable to properly walk when staff from Big Cat Rescue found him at Animal House backyard zoo in Alabama, USA. The animals were allegedly kept in appalling conditions. But 11-year-old Mickey – who had very little muscle on his legs – was saved and treated at Big Cat Rescue’s facility in Tampa, Florida.
Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue, said: ‘Mickey was in a terrible condition when we found him but we worked hard to make him as comfortable as possible. This is the end of the road for all the cats that we take in.
‘There is nowhere else for them to go so we just have to ensure that they can live a peaceful and happy life.’
A healthy cougar of Mickey’s size should weigh around 180lb but unfortunately Mickey weighed only half that when he was rescued.
After he was sedated and his rotten teeth removed, vets discovered that both of Mickey’s back knees had torn ligaments and were riddled with arthritis.
Over the next six months Mickey underwent two surgeries on his back legs in an attempt to reduce the bowing and make him more comfortable.
‘For his first surgery Mickey had to have the ball joint in his left knee reshaped to fit back into place,’ explains Carole. ‘His right knee proved to be more of a complicated procedure and along with having to reshape the knee joint, the vet – Dr Callum Hay – had to fit a mesh sleeve over the joint to hold it into place as it was so badly worn.’
Since his second operation in March 2015, the 11-year-old cougar has been under cage rest at the rescue facility. He has also undergone physical therapy to encourage him to walk ,with staff managing to coax him from his cage with meat on a stick.
‘Cougars in captivity don’t tend to have a long lifespan but Mickey is doing well considering all the problems that he has had,’ says Carole.
‘Our only concern is giving him the best life that we possibly can for his remaining years. He has a real playful side which is great to see but it will be a long road to recovery for him.’