Born to a litter of four on November 24, 2007, Tuga was the name we gave the last male. It means 'fast, with difficulty' in Russian. At first we weren't sure why we named him this - he was a good cub, who loved playing with Koshka as they grew. But then came the fateful day that Tuga jumped onto a platform about two feet high. Koshka immediately tried to follow, and landed with his full weight on Tuga's back leg before it could be moved. They were separated and Tuga was checked by our staff, a confirmed break in his leg, just above one of the growth plates was found by our zoo director. Due to this, the veterinarians could not plate or pin the bone. Their only option was to plaster it in a cast. Which lasted until Tuga woke up and kicked the entire thing off with his other hind leg!
Thus began the adventure of casting, and recasting Tuga's broken leg. He was placed under 24/7 emergency supervision in the enclosures kept besides the zoo director's house. As it was winter we did our best to provide him with stimulation and distraction, but we soon learned everything is a stimulant to a tiger. E-collars (the infamous cone of shame) were removed immediately, and all of our attempts to redirect or distracting his need to chew failed. Finally we used duct tape, almost five rolls of it! Wrapping the plaster up and keeping a constant eye on him, to the point of pulling twelve hour shifts with little to no bathroom breaks. In the end Tuga had to be recast three times, including when the wonder Dr. Brian Hunter, DVM came out on Christmas Day. Thus, we learned why we truly named Tuga 'fast, with difficulty!'