Tiger Surgery at MU
"One of those situations where these three [tigers], including Sulley, were in a car and that was a very inappropriate thing because one of them passed away from the heat exposure," said Pat Craig of the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colo., where Sulley is currently kept.
While people paid $25 each to have their picture taken with the tiger, his malnourishment was starting to take a toll.
"He probably wasn't fed appropriately during his developmental years," said MU surgeon Derek Fox. "Bones can be very finicky with respect to their development and growth. If they're not exposed to the right things, especially nutrition, they can grow very crooked."
Sulley's legs started to bow outward when he walked. These deformities were leading to multiple permanent joint malformations, arthritis and pain. That's when the Wild Animal Sanctuary called the University of Missouri.
When doctors assessed the situation, they were more than willing to lend a hand.
"We tried our best to help Sulley and felt indebted to do so becuase it was really the fault of man and humans of why he has suffered the way he has," said Fox.
For the past few years, Mizzou surgeons have been studying a technique used in humans to correct similar limb deformities in dogs. With careful planning, Sulley was ready to have this same procedure performed.
Although the surgery went fine, the doctors say it's going to be a long road ahead for Sulley. It could be almost three months before he is back to his old self again. Considering his past, the doctors think his recovery time shouldn't be that bad.
Several companies donated both time and money to the effort, including Mizzou Tiger for Tigers, the nation's first tiger mascot conservation program.