When Sasha was a tiny cub, the Guatemala circus owner decided to cut off her front toes, to prevent her claws growing. She would not be able to defend herself. The circuses don’t pay for veterinarians. She will have been torn, screaming, from her mother, her legs held tight, as her toes were cut off. Instead of cleanly cutting all the toes off, one toe was crushed. The injury was just left, and so baby Sasha developed a limp, her toe infected and painful. Six long years of pain later, the infection turned into cancer.
Following Guatemala’s ban on animal circuses, ADI arrived at the circus with officials in 2018 and seized Sasha, taking her to our Temporary Rescue Unit where our veterinary team examined her leg with x-ray, ultrasound, blood samples. The diagnosis was a slow-moving fibrosarcoma, moving up her leg, destroying the bone. We sent the pictures to ADI Wildlife Sanctuary veterinarian Dr Peter Caldwell in South Africa.
Until we could get her to the facilities she needed in South Africa, we could only give her medicines to feel better.
Despite her limp, strong, beautiful, Sasha showed her big personality at the Temporary Rescue Unit, dominating Kimba, Tomas and others!
We moved our circus survivors from Guatemala to South Africa in January 2020, where Sasha could get the help she needed. Dr Caldwell decided on a radical and ground-breaking approach – to remove all the diseased bone and replace it with a titanium implant.
Fast-forward to today, 10-year-old Sasha is free of cancer, but her limp remains. She is no longer in pain, but the tendons in her leg are contracted due to a lifetime of limping. As she grew up, they did not stretch and grow as normal.
Physiotherapy in the form of toys and especially balls will help her to learn to use the leg again, although she may never regain full flexibility and power. But Sasha is always excited to play ball!
She now makes partial use of her leg when she jumps up on her platform, and we hope that when Sasha moves into her new habitat, it will encourage her to explore and maximize her fitness. She will be next door to brothers Kimba and Tomas, as she knows them well.
The ADIWS team call her Princess Sasha, as she has an attitude about being asked to do anything!
Can you help us to continue to build new features in her new habitat to help Sasha exercise, provide lots of balls and catnip boxes, and care for her for life?