Big Cat, Big Operation
Veterinary technicians Eszter Smith, left, and Denise Young carry an anesthetized snow leopard out of the operating room Thursday at the Sun Valley Animal Center south of Ketchum. Veterinarian Randy Acker—a specialist in animal orthopedics—and a team of assistants performed surgery on the endangered feline’s hip. The cat, named Panja—a 6-year-old male from the Tautphaus Park Zoo in Idaho Falls—was brought to the veterinary center for a hip replacement. During surgery, doctors discovered cancer in the area of the damaged hip, but decided to proceed with the hip replacement after removing some cancerous tissue and determining it had not spread to other parts of the body. Panja was scheduled to return to Idaho Falls Thursday night. Doctors declared the operation a success but are not certain what the prognosis is.