The image: A Malayan jungle cat named Girl last week became the first tiger ever to receive a hip replacement. The tiger, Girl, resides in an East German zoo, and developed arthritis so severe that she required emergency surgery — which she almost didn't survive. During a three-hour operation performed by five University of Leipzig veterinarians, Girl's heart almost stopped before anesthetist Michaele Alef "saved her life," according to The Guardian. The tiger is now recuperating in separate enclosure at the zoo, and may soon be in the clear, says Discovery: "Once a six-week danger period when the new hip could dislocate is over, there is every chance that it will last her the rest of her life." And since Girl is relatively young — her breed often lives to be 20 years old — that could be a good long time.
The reaction: Post-surgery, Girl is "doing as well as any tiger could be after such a serious operation... we are happy," head doctor Peter Böttcher told the German newspaper Deutsche Welle. "Malayan tigers are one of the world's most endangered species," said the University of Leipzig in a statement, "with only around 500 estimated to be living in the wild. This was another reason to operate on Girl." Below, see a picture of Girl on the operating table: