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Even as their numbers sadly dwindle around the world, tigers are still renowned for the grace and power.
Yet without the intervention of a pioneering team of German surgeons, an eight-year-old tigress might have been forced to reach for a zimmer frame.
Instead, a Malayan tigress named Girl has become the first of her species to be given an artificial hip joint.
A resident of the Halle Zoo in eastern Germany, Girl suffered from arthrosis and lameness and had been in noticeable pain for almost a year.
But after the magnificent beast was sedated and shaved, veterinary surgeons were able to give her a new lease of life by fitting a hip joint prosthesis.
Leipzig University today confirmed the success of the hip replacement operation on Girl, whose life expectancy is 20.
‘Malayan tigers are one of the world's most endangered species, with only around 500 estimated to be living in the wild. This was another reason to operate on Girl,’ a statement said.
The tigress is now recovering in a separate enclosure back in Halle Zoo, and faces a six-week danger period when her new hip joint could dislocate.
However, Peter Boettcher, part of the surgical team, said: ‘We are happy.’
Titanium-based artificial hip joints like that used to aid Girl were first used to help injured dogs but have recently been implanted in humans as well.