Oakland Zoo officials rescued an 8-month-old tiger cub from a private facility where the cat was found with at least 10 bone fractures caused by poor diet.

The zoo, which worked with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to rescue the cub Tuesday afternoon somewhere in the western United States, has begun what officials hope will be a long rehabilitation for the young tiger.

Initial evaluations of the animal found it had 10 pathological fractures, or breaks caused by weak bones, which veterinarians said occurred due to decalcification of its bones.

“Inadequate amounts of calcium and phosphorus in its diet caused its body to obtain calcium from its bones, resulting in weakening of the bones and subsequent fracture during the young tiger’s normal activities, such as play behavior,” according to a statement from the Oakland Zoo.

The zoo said it could not provide details about the tiger’s previous home “due to ongoing legalities with its case.”

In 2022, Congress passed the Big Cat Public Safety Act, which prohibits the private ownership of big cats as pets, including tigers, as most infamously depicted in the Netflix series “Tiger King.”

An 8-month-old tiger cub undergoes an MRI.

An 8-month-old tiger cub with bone fractures undergoes an MRI after being rescued from an undisclosed private facility.

(Oakland Zoo)

“Big cats do not receive adequate care for their well-being in unaccredited facilities,” the zoo’s statement said, noting its support for the legislation. “The Oakland Zoo is equipped to execute the rehabilitation this rescued tigress needs to begin her long journey to recovery.”

The puppy was diagnosed with metabolic bone disease, which caused 50% muscle atrophy, officials said. Many of her fractured bones are also healing improperly, resulting in abnormal angles in her limbs. Medical problems have prevented the tiger from performing natural movements such as running and climbing.

“I have treated over 100 cases of rescued big cats, and unfortunately, these injuries can lead to lifelong medical problems,” said Ryan Sadler, senior veterinarian at the Oakland Zoo.

But the team is working to give the tiger the best care and is “cautiously optimistic” that he will make a full recovery, although he will likely develop arthritis later in life, according to the statement. Zoo staff have provided her with nutrients to help her regain her calcium and a physical therapy plan to rehabilitate her muscles, the zoo said. They also gave him painkillers.

“Seeing this young tiger endure such obvious suffering is extremely difficult,” Nik Dehejia, executive director of the Oakland Zoo, said in a statement. “No animal should experience life this way. “We are grateful to play a role that gives hope for better days ahead.”

By Sam