May 30, 1998 – October 1, 2013
Loving Adoptive Parent: Laura Frazier
Consuela was a tiger with somewhat of a rough history. A scratch to her eye severed the muscle that controlled the eye's movement when she was young. This injury made it immensely difficulty for her to understand the world around her. Her vision often crossed and she would try her best to catch a view of you with her “good eye”. She adapted well. It seemed no matter how tough the road, Consuela did what she did best, she overcame...against all odds. I met Consuela over two years ago, and I immediately fell in love with her spirit -- strong, optimistic, excited, wild, loving. Something in me found a kindred spirit with this oftentimes goofy, but always completely loving, tiger. Consuela is the one tiger that would, without fail, always run up to the fence offering snuffles and fence rubs anytime she saw a person in the general vicinity. She had a way of making me feel so loved and so special every time I went to see her. When I woke her up to say goodbye at the end of my internship, she ran full speed to me from across her enclosure, snuffling the whole way. That was the moment she stole my heart. I would never be the same again. I made it official and adopted my big white striped angel.
Since then, she has faced many more trials. In January, a malignant melanoma growth was discovered growing in her eyelid. Unknown to all a much larger tumor was located under her eye socket. It was so large that her good eye had to be removed. She recovered from the surgery incredibly quickly and became a whole new tiger. Without having two eyes competing with each other, Consuela was seeing the world like it was a whole new place. It was if she was seeing me for the first time. She made a slight transformation in personality as well. She lost some of her “Crazy Connie-ness” and became a more relaxed version of herself. She still got very excited when she saw people coming to visit her, but she lost some of the devious and wild excitement. I feel like this is the time when I truly got to know Consuela’s loving soul. With her new improved ability to see, our relationship grew more intense every day.
Recently Consuela’s health has been a bit of a roller coaster. She lost quite a bit of weight and grew lethargic. We knew that the cancer had spread. Despite how sick she was feeling she always managed to give me snuffles (tiger purrs). I am convinced that she didn’t want me to know how sick she was. But in the end, she had more bad days than she had good days. She wasn’t eating very well and she stopped getting up to see people. In a last ditch effort Consuela was sedated to see if there was some way to prolong our time together. We were so hopeful when the x-rays showed the cancer had not spread to her lungs and other organs. Then the bad news came. After examination of her neck the culprit was found. Large tumors had grown in her throat and neck. This was surely why she had not been able to eat well. Dr Bill said she had maybe a another month of life full of intense pain and suffering.
It was clear to all of us what the answer was to be. Consuela would not be waking up. I was able to hold her head on my lap as she passed to the next life. I am so glad that my Connie is no longer in pain, but I will forever miss seeing her beautiful spirit, feeling her snuffles on my face, feeling her fur in my fingers, and smelling her incredible tiger smell. It is time to say goodbye to my love...my big baby girl. She will be forever in my heart.
-Written by Laura Frazier, Intern Graduate and Connie's loving adoptive mom