Beaten tiger cub dies after rare blood transfusion
Endangered animal was rescued after attack
By The Associated Press
Tue. Nov 18 - 7:47 AM
NAGPUR, India — Officials say a 7-month-old wild tiger died Tuesday in a central Indian zoo, two days after veterinarians tried to save the cub with a rare blood transfusion.
The cub, which doctors named Juhi after a fragrant white flower native to India, had shown signs of improvement, but suddenly went into convulsions Tuesday.
Veterinarians gave her a blood transfusion believing it was the only way to save the cub after her hemoglobin levels had dropped to dangerously low levels.
Juhi and her sister, Jai, had been rescued from angry villagers who had tried to kill the cats, fearing they would attack children and cattle.
Jai responded well to treatment, but Juhi's condition continued to deteriorate.
India's wild tiger population has plummeted to some 1,500, down from about 3,600 six years ago and an estimated 100,000 a century ago.
Shrinking habitats have brought the wild cats into conflict with farmers and poachers who kill them for pelts and body parts, highly prized in traditional Chinese medicine.
"The cubs were in bad shape at the time they were rescued. They were starving," said Bimal Majumdar, the chief wildlife officer in the region. "The villagers had also beaten them with sticks so they were injured as well."
While the other cub Jai, or Victory, responded well after being brought to the zoo, Juhi’s condition deteriorated.
On Sunday, veterinarians treating the cat discovered that her hemoglobin levels had suddenly dropped to a dangerously low level and decided the only way to save her was to carry out a blood transfusion.
They sent a request to the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai, where doctors tranquilized two healthy adult tigers and drew 350 millilitres of blood from each of them. Four hours later the blood reached Nagpur, said Vinery Jangle, the park’s head veterinarian.
Jangle, who oversaw the transfusion, said she remained uncertain whether it would prove successful because only rudimentary tests were done to determine whether the donor blood matched Juhi’s type.
"The blood grouping procedure is critical, but in India there has been no work done on (tiger) blood groups. There are no studies on blood types and wild tigers," she said, adding that she was unaware of a transfusion being performed on a tiger elsewhere.
Transfusions for rare animals can be difficult because blood types and antibodies vary from species to species, according to the website of Brown University’s Division of Biology and Medicine.
While rare, transfusions have been done in the past on turtles, pandas and a baby elephant at western zoos, which sometimes bank an animals own blood in case it needs a transfusion, the website said.