Yorkshire Wildlife Park zookeepers have ‘hearts in their throats’ as Vladimir the tiger undergoes major procedure

Yorkshire Wildlife Park Siberian Fat Cat Submitted to Check for Spine Problem

Zookeepers let out a huge sigh of relief when one of their rare Siberian tigers returned from a risky vet procedure.

Vladimir the Amur tiger woke up feeling “slightly annoyed” but came out unharmed after undergoing general anesthesia to check for a problem with his spine.

The zoo’s carnivore team leader Kim Wilkins described the procedure, which could cause the 12-year-old big cat to stop breathing, as “heart in its throat.”

Read the latest news on the exotic creatures of Yorkshire Wildlife Park here.

About two years ago, park staff near Doncaster noticed a curvature in the feline grandfather’s spine that was causing him discomfort and a strange way of walking.

Vlad was prescribed pain relievers and his spine was monitored, but the procedure, under “knock-down” general anesthesia, was essential to verify that the condition had not progressed.

Ms Wilkins said the first indications from Wednesday’s procedure were that there had been no major changes in Vlad’s condition and that he was recovering well from the anesthesia.

She said: “We all heaved a huge sigh of relief when he sat down, looking slightly annoyed but alert.”

She added, “Tiger rollovers are always heart-in-throat situations anyway, as they don’t always respond very well to knock-down drugs, so they can hallucinate or stop breathing.

“So we were all very, very relieved to go through this with him and we were intact as well.”

Ms Wilkins said they would give Vlad a treat once the effects of the anesthetic wore off.

She said, “We’re going to leave him tonight, let his stomach rest, and then we’ll give him a nice, big breastfeed tomorrow.”

“He might have a horse’s leg if he’s lucky.”

All photos Danny Lawson / PA

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