Media Statement

Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.903.2071,
January 28, 2021
 Update on Amur Tiger’s Hip Replacement Surgery at Brookfield Zoo

Brookfield, Ill. — Yesterday, January 27, a team of veterinary specialists successfully performed a total hip arthroplasty (THA) with a custom-made orthopedic implant on Malena, a 10½-year-old Amur tiger at Brookfield Zoo. Following surgery, the big cat recovered well from anesthesia and was resting comfortably by early evening. Despite high hopes, overnight as Malena began moving around, she exerted force on her leg in such a way that the portion of the implant in her femur was dislodged. A surgery to remove the implant and perform a femoral head and neck excision (FHNE), a planned alternative procedure, will be performed on Saturday, January 30.
“We knew going into this groundbreaking surgery, there was a risk of complications given the incredible forces generated from a tiger’s leg muscles. However, with the severity of Malena’s arthritis, we also knew surgical intervention was the best option to keep her comfortable,” said Dr. Mike Adkesson, vice president of clinical medicine for the Chicago Zoological Society. “Going into surgery, we knew if it was not successful, we still had a secondary option to relieve her discomfort. While she won’t have the high level of function we were hoping to restore with the innovative total hip replacement, Malena will be able to move around comfortably without pain in her hip.”
The alternative FHNE procedure, in which the arthritic head and neck of the femur (thighbone) are removed, will allow a fibrous joint to form and the leg muscles to provide stability to the joint. This procedure also alleviates arthritis pain and restores mobility. Dr. James Cook, DVM, Ph.D., the Allen Distinguished Chair in Orthopaedic Surgery, director of the Mizzou BioJoint Center at the University of Missouri, who performed the initial surgery will again assist the veterinary team in a procedure to perform this revision surgery based on the original contingency plan. Malena will remain in the zoo’s animal hospital until then.
“Our primary focus still remains on Malena’s well-being and keeping her comfortable. We’re grateful to Dr. Cook for his continued partnership. And, by striving for innovative solutions such as the THA, we advance veterinary knowledge for the endangered species under our care, and the field more broadly,” said Dr. Adkesson. 

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About the Chicago Zoological Society
The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by engaging people and communities with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. Open every day of the year, the zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and also is accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit


Sondra Katzen
Media Relations Manager
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


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