Carolina Tiger Rescue, formerly the Carnivore Preservation Trust, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit wildlife sanctuary whose mission is saving and protecting wild cats in captivity and in the wild.
Date of Birth
Date of Death
On April 15th, 2009, Nitro and his enclosure-mate Apache arrived from a junkyard in Oakley, Kansas, following the February attack of a man by the lions at the same facility, the Prairie Cat Animal Refuge. Before his journey from Kansas to North Carolina, Nitro had greeted Curator Kathryn Bertok with chuffles, but once in quarantine, seemed offended that his greeting was rewarded with a 24-hour long drive with a very grumpy Apache tiger. Before long though, Nitro greeted the Keepers with chuffles again. Staff began to notice that he did not focus on the people moving around outside his bay.
Nitro in Oakley, KS
Once Apache and Nitro moved to their outdoor home, the problem was clear- Nitro was blind. An intern took on the project of modifying Nitro's enclosure, creating sand paths to let him know he was close to the fence and scent-marking his water dish. He bumped into trees for a few days, but now navigates his home like a pro.
Despite his impaired vision, Nitro merrily chuffled at, or at least in the general direction of, all of his visitors both familiar and new. Nitro's curiosity and trusting nature helped him adjust to his new home quickly. Nitro endeared himself to his fans from by the way he listened intently to a voice he recognized and rose from the ground to trot over to his guests .
Nitro's story was featured in this video produced at Carolina Tiger in 2009
In May, 2013, a volunteer reported Nitro had developed an open sore on the side of his cheek. Pain meds and antibiotics were started immediately. After much discussion and observation over two days the decision was made to anesthetize him to see what was going on with his mouth. Staff veterinarians discussed the risks involved given Nitro's poor anesthesia history. They decided to sedate him before he stopped taking food. It's much easier to get meds into an exotic animal that is still eating. An animal will also be better able to handle the inherent risk of anesthesia if he's not dehydrated or debilitated from not eating.
He did have a seizure while going under, but once the seizure was under control, he didn't seize again. Staff vets looked at his mouth, and found three rotten teeth. The one near the sore on his cheek was already broken and was easily removed. The next was a canine that he lost when he first arrived. That tooth had not fully healed and required removal of debris and part of a tooth. Both of the teeth cleaned up nicely and vets prepared to remove the third tooth. Throughout the anesthesia his heart rate and respiration rate remained constant but he suddenly went into respiratory and cardiac arrest.
The vet staff did CPR for fifteen minutes and gave emergency drugs, including epinephrine directly to his heart in an effort to save him. His heart never started again.
Some of the animals at Carolina Tiger Rescue pull a little harder on our heart strings. The sad little blind tiger certainly made many hearts melt. His silly antics and sweet demeanor will be greatly missed. Nitro's story was able to touch so many people thanks to a book published by National Geographic Kids, Tiger in Trouble. His story has an incredible power to compel us to become a voice for captive wildcats.
Tribute by Shanna Oberreiter and Amanda Byrne.
Photo/s courtesy of Amanda Byrne & Thomas County Sheriff Dept. (Oakley, KS), ©Carolina Tiger Rescue