At only 9 months old, Aasha, a Bengal tiger, weighed approximately 30 pounds, a size more suitable for a 3-month-old cub, according to Vicky Keahey, founder of Texas’ In-Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue and Educational Center. Keahey discovered this information in March 2011 when her U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspector expressed concern about Aasha and recommended transferring her into Keahey’s care.
Upon learning more, Keahey pieced together Aasha’s sad story, revealing that she was a part of a traveling circus and shared a cage with a larger tiger who frequently bullied her.
The USDA inspector explained that, during a recent investigation, it was discovered the animals at the circus weren’t receiving proper care, nothing that there was something particularly wrong with Aasha, although it was uncertain what.
Keahey agreed to take her in and, as soon as she saw Aasha in person, she knew exactly what plagued the young tiger cub: ringworm.
“Aasha’s bald spots covered almost her entire body and her skin was dry [with] cracked, darkened areas and bleeding,” Keahey said. She also had open wounds, which Keahey assumed were bite marks from the larger tiger she lived with. A trip to the veterinarian confirmed Aasha’s ringworm, and she was taken to an isolated enclosure at In-Sync Exotics.
“Every day, twice a day, I would go in and give Aasha medications and spend time with her,” Keahey said. “I knew I was going to have to handle her in order to get her well.” Aasha also received a special medicated bath daily, which she wasn’t exactly thrilledaout – Keahey said she ran away, forcing Keahey to chase after her. But little did Aasha realize she’d soon become quite the swimmer.
“After eight weeks of treatments you could see little bits of fuzz growing back to [what once] were bald spots,” Keahey said.
“By the time the treatments were over, Aasha loved the water so I put a small tub in [her enclosure] for her to splash around in.”