When she was nine months old, Aasha the Bengal tiger weighed around 30 lbs, as much as a 3-month-old cub. Fortunately for her, Aasha was rescued and brought back to full health.
Vicky Keahey, founder the In-Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue and Educational Center in Texas, learned about Aasha in March 2011 through her U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspector, who wanted to transfer the big cat into Keahey’s care.
But there was more to Aasha’s story: she belonged to a traveling circus and shared a cage with a much bigger tiger who frequently attacked her.
Here is Aasha when she first arrived to In-Sync.
The USDA inspector explained that the animals at the circus weren’t getting proper care, adding that there was something particularly wrong with Aasha.
Keahey agreed to take Aasha in and, as soon as she saw her, she knew precisely what was wrong with the young tiger cub: ringworm. She said:
Aasha’s bald spots covered almost her entire body and her skin was dry [with] cracked, darken areas and bleeding.
Aasha also had open wounds, which Keahey believes were bite marks from the larger tiger she lived with. The veterinarian confirmed Aasha’s ringworm and she was taken to an isolated enclosure at In-Sync Exotics.
When she was rescued from circus, her bald spots covered almost her entire body and her skin was dry [with] cracked, darken areas and bleeding.
Every day, twice a day, I would go in and give Aasha medications and spend time with her. I knew I was going to have to handle her in order to get her well.
Aasha also received a special medicated bath every day, which she wasn’t exactly in love with and kept running away, forcing Keahey to chase after her.
However, little did Aasha realize that she would soon become quite the swimmer.
“Every day, twice a day, I would go in and give Aasha medications and spend time with her”, said Keahey, founder of Texas’ In-Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue and Educational Center.
After eight weeks of treatments you could see little bits of fuzz growing back to [what once] bald spots.
By the time the treatments were over, Aasha loved the water so I put a small tub in [her enclosure] for her to splash in.
Under Keahey’s care, the tiger started to grow in size and, though Keahey could not sit in Aasha’s enclosure with her now that she was bigger and healthier, the keeper still loved to interact with her charge through games like giving Aasha a good soaking with a hose.
At first, Keahey would have to chase Aasha to get her into medicated baths… but the cub soon started to like them and her condition improved drastically!
Within eight months she looked like a real tiger, and it was time to see how she would react to other tigers.
We loaded her up and put her right next door to Smuggler. He went crazy for her and was always showing off for her.
Despite the fact that Smuggler was three times as big as Aasha, Keahey sensed that there was an attraction between the two cats and also believed that Aasha would be able to handle herself with the male tiger, so the two started dating.
“Within eight months she looked like a real tiger.”
The two tigers got to know each other better through supervised playdates, until their keepers believed the cats were ready to move into the same enclosure together. Keahey said:
That was about four years ago…
Aasha is still about half Smuggler’s size, but he knows when to steer clear of her.
Aasha was then introduced to a bigger tiger named Smuggler who “went crazy for her and was always showing off for her”.
Now the two live in the same enclosure together and Aasha is a healthy and very much loved tigress.
Aasha’s grown from a sickly, undernourished tiger cub and a victim of mistreatment and neglect to a healthy, playful, confident adult tiger who loves the thing she used to be scared of most — the water.
Here are Aasha and Smuggler playing together back when they were first getting to know each other:
And here are the highlights:
The hottest on Viral Spell right now:
Share this awesome story with your friends on Facebook and Twitter below — they would want to see it, too!