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Seventh Big Cat Dies From Distemper At Wylie Animal Sanctuary

(credit: In-Sync Exotics)

WYLIE (CBS 11 NEWS) - A distemper outbreak has killed another large tiger in Wylie.  The virus has now taken the lives of seven large cats at In-Sync Exotics.  More than a dozen other animals are still sick at the sanctuary.

Thirteen-year-old Tacoma is the latest victim.  He lived at the animal sanctuary for more than a decade.  Only roses and medical supplies used in a last attempt to save his life remain in his cage.

"We tried right up until we couldn't ask him to fight anymore. He had IV bags which is what you see," said Lisa Williams from In-Sync Exotics.

Tacoma died from canine distemper, a viral disease that attacks the nervous system.  He is the seventh cat to die from the virus since July.

"This is the safe place for our cats.  We're supposed to be able to protect them here and we couldn't protect them from this and it kills us," said Williams.

The sanctuary believes the big cats were exposed to the virus by raccoons.  So farm there is no sign of any malicious or criminal intent behind their deaths.

Tacoma was the first big cat you saw when entering the property--he'd been here since he was nine months old.  Workers called him "the soul" of the sanctuary.

There are 15 other big cats suffering from canine distemper. There is no vaccine or cure for them.  Instead the sanctuary is giving all of the animals vitamins and supplements to boost their immune system, in hopes of keeping them alive.

A special funeral was held for Tacoma on Monday.  He will be cremated and his ashes returned to the sanctuary.

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