After just 10 days of the extensive therapy, 18-week-old tigress Ranga seems to be on the mend, her caretakers at the Halle Zoo said.
Each day the wee big cat practices walking in 30-degree water for seven-minute sessions to strengthen the muscles in her hind legs.
The 11-kilo feline also takes part in physiotherapy exercises on land, zookeepers said.
Ranga was born healthy at the zoo in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, but suffered a sudden paralysis in her back legs in December 2010. Zookeepers believe her mother Cindy may have unintentionally caused the injury.
The baby tiger has improved greatly in recent weeks, with increased reflex reactions, veterinarian Jens Thielebein said. But because her muscles weren’t responding quite as quickly, he decided to try water therapy too.
The zoo doesn’t have much time to get Ranga healthy, though. As she grows, she will become a danger to trainers.
“We don’t know how long it will be possible,” Thielebein said.
In an interview late last year the vet said that the zoo may be forced to euthanize the rare tiger if therapy fails to mend her legs.