When Zorro was just a young leopard, he had his paws cruelly declawed. So when his owner, a Las Vegas entertainer, turned him over to Forever Wild Exotic Animal Sanctuary in 2007, he was at risk of a lifetime of pain from the unnatural procedure.

 Fortunately, he was able to undergo a restorative surgery that ensured he could live a life without pain. But his story's an important reminder of the dark practice that often haunts performing or "pet" big cats.

Susan Bass, PR director for the Florida sanctuary Big Cat Rescue told that her group often sees cats come in with declawed paws. "It's just as painful for the big cats as it is for domestic cats," she said. "You take the first piece of ... their actual bones."

"What's sad about big cats especially is that a lot of times it's done without anesthesia or a trained veterinarian, when they're small cubs," she said. Their sellers can then market them as pets or performers who will bond with their owners and can't hurt them — teeth aside.

Fortunately, it looks like Zorro is now pain-free — and putting his paws to good use.

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