Aasha is a female Bengal tiger. She was a travelling circus tiger. When she was spotted with ringworm at the age of nine months she had the weight of a three-month-old cub at 30 pounds and most of her coat including all her head was badly affected by ringworm. The ringworm had taken all the colour out of the infected areas and turned the coat to grey. Her appearance was shocking and sad.
In addition to suffering from an horrendous infection of ringworm, this sweet female tiger cub was being bullied or pestered in her cage at the circus by a much larger tiger. No doubt Aasha was miserable both because of being picked on by a bigger tiger and because she must have been in a considerable amount of discomfort due to the ringworm infection. Being captive in a travelling circus would have made her miserable as well.
As this was a travelling circus I would have thought that the tiger with whom she shared a cage would also have had ringworm because this is a highly contagious fungal infection.
Aasha’s condition first came to the notice of a USDA inspector. The inspector wanted to transfer her to Texas’ In-Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue and Educational Center (“In-Sync Exotics”) founded by Vicky Keahey.
Aasha’s condition was horrible. Her skin was in a very bad way. There were open wounds. Her skin was cracked, bleeding and there were dark areas. She was rescued by In-Sync Exotics and placed into isolation because, as mentioned, this is a highly contagious disease.
Vicky Keahey diligently treated Aasha for her ringworm for several months as far as I can tell. After eight weeks of treatment progress was visible in that her coat started to grow back.
Aasha learned to love water during her treatment. This happened because she had to be treated in a specially medicated bath which she wasn’t happy about. She ran away. The treatment of ringworm is difficult. But essentially tigers love water and now she spends a lot of her time in it.
The happy ending is enhanced by the fact that she fell in love with a big male tiger (which was reciprocated) at the In-Sync Exotics sanctuary whose name is Smuggler. Smuggler was at one time three times the size of her and now she’s about half his size. But there was an immediate attraction and with careful management they were placed together and you can see that they have a great time.
She is now confident, healthy tiger. Her size, which I would say still looks small, is probably due to the early neglectful years in the travelling circus.
The treatment of generalised ringworm requires the infected hair to be clipped followed by a twice weekly dip with an antifungal solution such as LymDyp (lime sulphur) or Nolvasan (chlorhexidine). The dips take place until two weeks beyond the cure. There are also oral antifungal drugs. There is also a vaccine which may not be very effective.
Sources: The Dodo, Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook, Myself. Link: In-Sync Exotics FB page.