Mia the jaguar at Discovery Wildlife Park made history in March as the first big cat to ever undergo regenerative platelet cell therapy for a knee joint issue.
The 14-year-old male jaguar has suffered from arthritis in his front knees for about three years and has been on anti-inflammatory medications for pain relief.
On March 23, a team made up of two veterinarians, two animal technicians, a physician and a nurse came to the Innisfail zoo to perform the cutting-edge procedure normally done on humans that involves using the patient’s own blood cells. A preparation of platelet-rich plasma was extracted from Mia’s blood and injected back into his knee joints to help repair and build muscle, ligament, cartilage and bone.
Discovery owner Doug Bos said Mia is already showing a slight bit of improvement, but it will take about a month or so to see how well the therapy worked.
Many of the animals at Discovery were orphaned in the wild, unwanted exotic pets or came from other zoos. Visitors learn about the animals at educational presentations where animals show off their natural skills and abilities.
Mia and his twin brother Magnum were born at the park.
“I’m personally excited to see it make a difference so we don’t have to give him medication that is hard on his body. Other than that he’s in good physical health,” Bos said.
He said the results could also have huge implications for veterinary medicine and reducing the suffering of animals without relying on medications or surgery that can result in complications.
Once the park opens for the season on May 1, visitors will notice that Mia’s knees are shaved and may be concerned, but his hair will grow back, he said.
“We want people to ask questions. We want people to know we’re trying to do our best.”
Bos said he learned about cell therapy by fluke when a doctor trained in the treatment came to Discovery last year with his family to camp.
“That was his first trip. He likes what we do here. He offered, at that time, to do free treatments on Mia and me,” said Bos who will also be assessed for the therapy soon.
For information about regenerative platelet cell therapy visit www.stemmd.ca.