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A Lion With Skin Cancer Has Received Radiation Therapy In Hospital

A Lion With Skin Cancer Has Received Radiation Therapy In Hospital

Spending time in hospital can be daunting enough, but spare a thought for patients in a hospital in South Africa who have had to share a ward with a 570lb lion.

The appropriately-named Chaos is receiving radiation treatment for skin cancer lesions on his nose at Muelmed Mediclinic in Pretoria, north-east South Africa.

The 16-year-old cat was unconscious, strapped down and smuggled in via the back door to avoid startling other patients.

Chaos was treated by five radiotherapists and an oncologist at the hospital, as there are no radiotherapy facilities for animals in the country.

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A lion is being treated for skin cancer in South Africa. Credit: Kara Heynis
A lion is being treated for skin cancer in South Africa. Credit: Kara Heynis

He has lived at Lory Park animal and owl sanctuary (since when have owls not been animals?) since he was just a few days old and his keeper, Kara Heynis, said the treatment was expensive but 'absolutely worth it'.

She said: "He is like our child so we will do anything we need for him."

Fortunately for other patients at the hospital, staff ensured the coast was clear when they brought in the lion.

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Radiation Specialist, Hanri Reynolds, told News 24: "We're a registered zoological facility so he was accompanied at all times and had all the necessary permits.

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"We started the whole process of transporting him to the hospital at 10:30 and returned back home at 13:15.

"There were no other human patients around while he was treated and he came into the hospital through a back door."

Chaos was brought in via the back door to avoid alarming other patients. Credit: Kara Heynis
Chaos was brought in via the back door to avoid alarming other patients. Credit: Kara Heynis
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Chaos is currently being kept in the shade in the enclosure he shares with a female lion until he has finished all of his treatment in around a month. Typically, animals without hair or fur - such as hippos, warthogs and elephants - are most susceptible to skin cancer.

Lions in the wild normally live to around the age of 14, but in captivity the average life expectancy of a lion is 22.

The outlook is quite different for some farmed lions though. Pictures recently emerged from a farm in South Africa where lions are kept in appalling, cramped conditions before being sold to tourist attractions. These lions are actually nearly hairless because of mange, a skin disease caused by parasitic mites that causes severe itching, hair loss and the formation of scabs and lesions.

Many farmed lions live in appalling conditions. Credit: HSI.org
Many farmed lions live in appalling conditions. Credit: HSI.org
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According to a report by HSI, up to 12,000 animals a year are bred on around 200 farms, in an industry that has been referred to as the 'snuggle scam'.

Reportedly, the animals are bred at the farms, then sent to petting centres where tourists can get close to the animals. From there, they are can be sent to safaris or 'walking with lions' tours, with holiday makers blissfully unaware of the suffering the creatures have endured.

Featured Image Credit: Kara Heynis

Topics: World News, Animals

Jake Massey

Jake Massey is a journalist at LADbible. He graduated from Newcastle University, where he learnt a bit about media and a lot about living without heating. After spending a few years in Australia and New Zealand, Jake secured a role at an obscure radio station in Norwich, inadvertently becoming a real-life Alan Partridge in the process. From there, Jake became a reporter at the Eastern Daily Press. Jake enjoys playing football, listening to music and writing about himself in the third person.