Treatment to Fit the Patient

Treatment to Fit the Patient

There are times when the evolving nature of veterinary medicine can take a unique twist. This was emphasized in the treatment of Marvin, a 300—pound female Bengal tiger. Marvin, who was then an inmate as the National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C., was suffering from a three—and—a—half—inch laceration of her left leg.

Normally, treating the wound would appear to be a simple medical procedure, but the patient would not cooperate. On twelve separate occasions the zoo veterinarians had cleaned her woud with disinfectants and placed swathes of gauze bandages on the leg. This was a simple and effective treatment, except that each time, in a few days, Marvin managed to gnaw off the bandages and reopen the wound.

Just before putting on the thirteenth bandage, the doctors had lunch at a nearby fast—food Mexican restaurant. Frustrated by the tiger's behavior, one of the veterinarians, acting on an idea, brought back with him a large plastic cup filled with hot sauce and chili peppers. After again bandaging the tiger's wound, the doctor smeared the hot sauce and peppers on the big cat's white bandage and, for good measure, added a touch of Tabasco sauce.

When placed back in her cage, the first thing she tried to do was to remove the bandage. One good taste, and her expression and reaction were almost the same as that of a human unexpectedly tasting something hot. Sticking her tongue in and out, she ran for the water tank and drank and drank and drank! This new approach to veterinary medicine was a complete success. Marvin left her bandage alone, and without further mishap the wound healed quickly.

From the book: 
Our Fascinating Earth