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Big Cat Scan: Lion Looks As If It’s Taking A Cat Nap As It Undergoes A Cat Scan

The 12-year-old endangered Asiatic lion, called Bhanu, was suffering recurrent ear infections in his left ear.

This lion looks as if it’s sneaking a little cat nap as it undergoes a CAT scan for earache at London Zoo.

The 12-year-old endangered Asiatic lion, called Bhanu, was suffering recurrent ear infections in his left ear.

So the team of vets at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) brought the computerized axial tomography (CAT) scanner to the zoo to investigate and take x-rays.

Poor Bhanu had previously undergone ear drops, regular ear examinations and even a thorough cleaning under anesthetic but all to no avail.

ZSL London Zoo Senior Veterinary Officer Taina (corr) Strike said: “We wanted to devise the best long-term treatment plan for Bhanu, but we first had to find out what was causing the problem and urgently rule out any worst-case scenarios, such as a tumor or a deep-seated infection, which would show up on a CAT scan immediately.

“Bhanu is an important member of the European-wide breeding program for Endangered Asiatic lions and deserves the very best care, so we arranged the full VIP treatment; bringing a CAT scanner to a big cat for the first time, so we could see deeper into his ear without him needing to travel.”

It took the six-strong team to gently lift the nearly 400-pound big cat into the right position for the scanner after the beast was anesthetized in his den and transported on a flatbed truck.

A scan specialist in Australia with experience in working with big cats was also present via video link to live assess the results.

This lion looks as if it’s sneaking a little cat nap as it undergoes a CAT scan for earache at London Zoo. (Steve Chatterley,SWNS/Zenger)

Taina continued: “We were grateful to have diagnostic imaging specialist David Reese from VetCT on hand to analyze the scans in real-time, who quickly informed us there was nothing serious to worry about – but that Bhanu had a very narrow left ear canal, which was more prone to blockages and infections.

“Just like your pet cat at home, big cats can naturally get ear infections too, which are normally treated with ear drops.

“ZSL’s zookeepers have worked closely with Bhanu to make sure he is completely at ease having the drops, but the naturally long length of a lion’s ear canal, combined with Bhanu’s being narrower than usual, meant that the treatment wasn’t reaching far enough to be effective.

“Now that we understand the issue, we can work to get Bhanu back to tip-top health.”

Vets took the opportunity to give Bhanu’s ear a thorough clean and treatment, before taking the big cat back to his Land of the Lions home to wake up.

This lion looks as if it’s sneaking a little cat nap as it undergoes a CAT scan for earache at London Zoo. (Steve Chatterley,SWNS/Zenger)

The team have since formed a long-term treatment plan for his care; instead of ear drops, the important feline will receive regular oral medication to reduce inflammation in his ear canal, anti-fungal medications to manage any infection, and a comprehensive ear clean during his annual health check.

Asiatic lions only occur in the wild in India, although historically its range used to be from the Middle East to India.

The last census in 2020 identified 674 in the wild, a 29 percent increase from 2015.

Expert vets and vet nurses at ZSL London Zoo look after more than 370 species, many of which are Critically Endangered and threatened in the wild.

Produced in association with SWNS.

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