By Dan Howlett @DanHowlett85

A COUGAR had to undergo two operations after it was rescued from a backyard zoo where it was allegedly fed live animals

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Videographer / Director: Big Cat Rescue
Producer: Dan Howlett, Chloe Browne
Editor: Joshua Dougla

Bow legged: The joints in his knee had to be repaired with two surgeries
Underweight: Mickey weighed half of what he should when he was rescued from the backyard zoo in Alabama

Mickey the cougar was unable to properly walk when staff from Big Cat Rescue found him at Animal House backyard zoo in Alabama.

Sleeping cougar: Mickey had to go under anaesthetic to have the operations performed

The animals were allegedly kept in appalling conditions and it was alleged that the owner of the zoo had been feeding them live domestic cats and dogs.

Unfortunately the Big Cat Rescue team believes a leopard that was kept on the site had been fed a live Doberman, which fought back – causing horrific injuries that it later died from.

Sleeping cougar: Mickey had to go under anaesthetic to have the operations performed

In a statement on their website, Big Cat Rescue said: "We were told that the owner had been feeding the dogs and cats there to her wild animals and that the Doberman had fought back.

Long journey: He spent 14 hours in transit to get to Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida

"Her family said the dog had just been in an adjacent cage and the leopard reached through.  

"Regardless of whether it was malice or neglect, the leopard’s leg had bones sticking out and festering tissue exposed.

Rare food: The animals in the backyard zoo were allegedly fed live cats and dogs

"Big Cat Rescue tried, unsuccessfully, for months, to get USDA, the USFWS, the State of Alabama and the local Sheriff to either confiscate the leopard or get her medical attention.  

"The leopard died and had probably suffered unimaginable agony for two years or more until her wounds killed her.

Rehabilitation: Mickey now rests in a cage but is often lured out for his physiotherapy
Whittled down: His knee had to be reshaped to allow it to fit in its joint

But 11-year-old Mickey – who had very little muscle on his legs - was saved and treated at Big Cat Rescue’s facility in Tampa, Florida.

Carole Baskin is the CEO of Big Cat Rescue, she said: “Mickey was in a terrible condition when we found him but we worked hard to make him as comfortable as possible.

Sad end: Many of the big cats in the backyard zoo were unable to be saved

“This is the end of the road for all the cats that we take in.

“There is nowhere else for them to go so we just have to ensure that they can live a peaceful and happy life.”

A healthy cougar of Mickey’s size should weigh around 180 pounds but unfortunately Mickey weighed only half that when he was rescued.

Rotten teeth: Emergency dentistry was also performed on the large cat
Peaceful days: Staff are now concerned with making sure the rest of Mickey's life is happy and comfortable

After he was sedated and his rotten teeth removed vets discovered that both of Mickey’s back knees had torn ligaments and were riddled with arthritis.

Over the next six months Mickey underwent two surgeries on his back legs in an attempt to reduce the bowing and make him more comfortable.

Carole added: “For his first surgery Mickey had to have the ball joint in his left knee reshaped to fit back into place.

End of the road: Mickey will live out the rest of his days at the rescue centre

“His right knee proved to be more of a complicated procedure and along with having to reshape the knee joint the vet – Dr Callum Hay – had to fit a mesh sleeve over the joint to hold it into place as it was so badly worn.”

Joint trouble: The cougar also suffered from severe arthritis

Since his second operation in March 2015 the 11-year-old Cougar has been under cage rest at the rescue facility.

Under the knife: Vets performed two operations on Mickey

He has also undergone physical therapy to encourage him to walk with staff managing to coax him from his cage with meat on a stick.

Long life: Staff hope that Mickey will survive in comfort for at least a few more years

Carole added: “Cougars in captivity don’t tend to have a long lifespan but Mickey is doing well considering all the problems that he has had.

Best care: Staff are always on hand at the facility to make sure Mickey is as comfortable as possible

“Our only concern is giving him the best life that we possibly can for his remaining years.

Playful kitty: The cougar is still undergoing rehabilitation after surgery

“He has a real playful side which is great to see but it will be a long road to recovery for him.”