By Dan Howlett @DanHowlett85
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Videographer / Director: Big Cat Rescue
Producer: Dan Howlett, Chloe Browne
Editor: Joshua Dougla
Mickey the cougar was unable to properly walk when staff from Big Cat Rescue found him at Animal House backyard zoo in Alabama.
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.
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.
"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.
"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.
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.
“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.
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.
“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.”
Since his second operation in March 2015 the 11-year-old Cougar has been under cage rest at the rescue facility.
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.
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.
“Our only concern is giving him the best life that we possibly can for his remaining years.
“He has a real playful side which is great to see but it will be a long road to recovery for him.”