A virus outbreak at a Texas animal sanctuary has sickened and killed five tigers and one lion in a shocking situation that the founder of the refuge has called “an absolute nightmare,” and more animals are still suffering from the infection.
The large cats at the In-Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue and Education Center in Wylie, TX are suffering from canine distemper according The Huffington Post.
“I can be looking at them one day and be thinking they’re OK, and the next day they have a seizure and die,” Vicky Keahey, the center’s founder said.
“We just have to give them the best supportive care we can and hope that their bodies can fight it,” the center’s spokeswoman Lisa Williams added.
Apollo, a 12-year-old tiger, seemed fine at feeding time, even though he was suffering from the virus, but just hours later he had a seizure and died, which then happened to four more tigers and a lioness.
Layla the lioness and two tigers, Abrams, named after the military tank, and his brother Harley, who Williams described a “a gigantic goofball,” were the first three to go.
A female tiger named Lucca was euthanized after she fell ill with the virus and Williams said she was so gentle “she would listen with paws crossed as she read to her.”
Kazuri, a male tiger passed who Williams said “had a penchant for hide-and-seek,” also passed away.
Williams said their losses were heartbreaking, because “You do get very, very attached to them.”
There are more than a dozen lions and tigers still suffering from the virus, and so far the virus has no cure.
Workers at the refuge are gathering information to help scientists study the virus and work toward a cure or vaccination. Experts says that the virus poses no risk to humans.
According to the In-Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue and Education Center website, they rescue neglected, abused and unwanted exotic felines.
“It’ll be a long time before we can say we’re out of the woods with any of them,” Williams said about the remaining sick animals.