TY, a 17-year old Siberian tiger went under the knife after Vernon Yates, Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation in Seminole, noticed that the feline wasn't eating for over two weeks.
"He's sort of like my biggest baby. This is my kid. This tiger means more to me than any cat that I have," Vernon said.
A hairball, no less smaller than a basketball, weighing almost 4 pounds was successuly removed from the tiger's body at the BluePearl Veterinary Partner's hospital by a team of surgeons and veterinary technicians.
The hairball, which was apparently too large to be removed by a camera-scope, was then removed by an emergency surgery that lasted around 2 hours.
This huge hairball is expected to be the result of TY grooming himself too much, the doctors jokingly say.
When TY barely ate 3 to 5 pounds of meat a day, as opposed to the 10-15 pounds a normal tiger would have, Vernon noticed that something was wrong. TY was then taken to a vet, where neither X-rays nor ultrasounds could make out the reason behind this behavior.
Finally, veterinarian Brain Luria used an endoscope to detect the reason behind the tiger's lost appetite.
"It looked like a giant ball of hair," he said. "So I grabbed a piece of it, and I could see it was hair."
"In the wild, a big cat in Ty's situation wouldn't have made it, It would die, I suppose," he added.
The surgery, which took around 2 hours, was not an easy task either, and more than half a dozen staff members had to be involved to ensure that the surgery was carried out perfectly.
The doctors assure a speedy recovery for TY, now that the surgery is done.