The 10-year-old tiger will undergo surgery on Saturday to remove the implant and an alternative procedure will be performed that will allow a fibrous joint to form and her leg muscles provide stability to the joint.
Dr. Mike Adkesson said veterinarians knew going into the novel surgery there was a risk of complications.
“Going into surgery, we knew if it was not successful, we still had a secondary option to relieve her discomfort,” Adkesson said.
“While she won’t have the high level of function we were hoping to restore with the innovative total hip replacement, Malena will be able to move around comfortably without pain in her hip.”
Veterinarians at Brookfield Zoo noted that, like humans, animals routinely develop degenerative problems in their joints as they age. When the tiger, Malena, arrived at the zoo last year, she had already been diagnosed with arthritis of the hip and was receiving pain relief medications.
Orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Cook, of the University of Missouri, who led the surgery team, said the 6.5-hour surgery was very challenging and took longer than expected. But he said the operation was a success and that the tiger seemed to have full range of motion in her hip after the procedure.
Cook will again assist the veterinary team in a procedure to perform this revision surgery based on the original contingency plan. Malena will remain in the zoo’s animal hospital until then.
Amur tigers – also known as a Siberian tigers – once roamed in Russia and China, but are now endangered; Their population in the wild is estimated between 500 and 600 animals.