When she passed away, Aasha, the Bengal tiger, was just nine months old. However, she weighed somewhere about 30 pounds, making her around the size of a cub that was three months old at the time.
In March of 2011, a USDA inspector who was concerned about Aasha and wanted to transfer her into Vicky Keahey’s care informed her of this upsetting knowledge for the first time. Vicky Keahey is the founder of Texas’ In-Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue and Educational Center.
According to what Keahey told The Dodo, “I was astonished as to how a nine-month-old tiger could be so small.” As Keahey gained further knowledge, the dreadful story of Aasha began to take shape, preparing him for an all-too-familiar scene: Aasha had been a performer in a traveling circus. She was held in a cage with a much larger tiger that preyed on her while she was confined there.
The USDA inspector stated that during a recent inspection, it was established that the circus animals were not being properly cared for, and that something was particularly wrong with Aasha, but it was unknown what the issue was. The inspector also stated that it was unclear what the issue was with Aasha.
Keahey gave in to Aasha’s request and agreed to take her in. The instant she laid eyes on Aasha, Keahey recognized immediately that her condition was ringworm.
According to Keahey, Aasha had bald spots nearly all over her body, and her skin was dry, cracked, discolored, and bleeding. In addition, her hair was falling out. In addition, she had open wounds, and Keahey speculated that the larger tiger that she shared her space with had caused them by biting her. After a visit to the physician confirmed that Aasha had ringworm, she was placed in a separate cage at In-Sync Exotics to serve as a quarantine.
Keahey recalled, “I would go in every day, sometimes twice a day, to give Aasha her medications and spend some quality time with her.” If I wanted her to recover, I realized I had to exercise some degree of control over her. Aasha was subjected to a unique medicinal bath on a daily basis, which she detested; Keahey said that she eloped in order to avoid it, which forced him to go in search of her. Aasha, on the other hand, was completely unaware that she would eventually develop into an excellent swimmer.
“After eight weeks of treatment, you could see little patches of fuzz springing back to [areas that were previously] bald,” Keahey noted. “This was a really positive sign.”
“Aasha had acquired a liking for water by the time the treatments were over, so I constructed a little tub in [her enclosure] for her to swim about in,” she stated.
Keahey was responsible for Aasha’s growth while she was in Keahey’s care. Once Aasha reached an adult size and was in better health, Keahey was no longer permitted to sit in Aasha’s cage with her, but she continued to enjoy playing games with the tigress, such as giving her a thorough washing with a hose.
After eight months, “She looked like a true tiger,” and now it was time to assess how she would act in the presence of other tigers, Keahey said further.
“After packing her in, we parked her next to Smuggler,” you say. “He was really head over heels in love with her, and he was always bragging about himself in front of her,” she said.
Keahey saw that there was a spark between Smuggler and Aasha, despite the fact that Smuggler was three times as large as Aasha…
… and believed that Aasha would be capable of handling herself appropriately around the male tiger; hence, the two began dating.
They became more familiar with one another through supervised playdates, which allowed them to reach the point where they were ready to share an enclosure.
In response, Keahey stated, “That was around four years ago.”
She went on to add that despite the fact that Aasha is only about half the size of Smuggler, he knows when to keep his distance from her.
Aasha has transformed from a sickly tiger cub, a victim of cruelty and neglect, into a vivacious, self-assured adult tiger who likes the activity that she used to be most scared of…
… the water itself.
Take a look at this cute video of Aasha and Smuggler when they were just beginning to get to know each other when they were first meeting.