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Veterinary surgeons remove basketball-sized hairball from tiger in Fla. that stopped eating

  • Ty the tiger during surgery.jpg

    Ty the tiger prepping for surgery. (BluePearl Photo/James Judge)

  • Ty's hairballs.jpg

    A basketball-size, 4 pound hairball that was removed from the stomach of a tiger at BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Clearwater, Fla. (BluePearl Photo/James Judge)

  • Ty the tiger.jpg

    Ty the tiger (BluePearl Photo/James Judge)

It's not unusual for a cat to get a hairball, but a 400-pound tiger needed help from veterinary surgeons in Florida when he couldn't hack up a basketball-size hairball by himself.

The 17-year-old tiger named Ty underwent the procedure Wednesday at a veterinary center in the Tampa Bay area community of Clearwater. Doctors said in a statement that they safely removed the 4-pound obstruction from Ty's stomach.

The tiger, which is cared for by Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation in Seminole, was brought to veterinarians after not eating for nearly two weeks. Doctors said they detected the hairball using a scope with a camera.

Vernon Yates, whose nonprofit group regularly assists law enforcement agencies with seized animals, says he's thankful the hairball was removed and Ty is doing fine.