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Faculty of Veterinary Science

Genghis the lion spends a day at the Faculty of Veterinary Science Academic Hospital for extensive testing

By CvB

Posted on 27 January 2010

Veterinary nursing sister Lizette Odendaal (left) assists Prof Ann Carstens, Head of the Section: Diagnostic Imaging to prepare the lion for diagnostic imaging (Picture: UP)
Veterinary nursing sister Lizette Odendaal (left) assists Prof Ann Carstens, Head of the Section: Diagnostic Imaging to prepare the lion for diagnostic imaging (Picture: UP)

The likely future prospect of aiding a lion to move around more freely than it is doing at present was one of the main reasons why this 140 kg, four-year-old male was admitted yesterday to the Veterinary Academic Hospital at the Onderstepoort campus of the University of Pretoria.

Named after the founder and emperor of the Mongol Empire, Genghis the lion from Lionsrock, a lion sanctuary in the eastern Free State started to show signs of weakness in his pelvic limbs which were causing him difficulties in moving around freely in his surroundings. After careful preparation he was tranquilised and placed in a special steel cage whereafter the long and exhausting trip from Bethlehem to Onderstepoort was undertaken. Amongst others, he was accompanied by his caretaker, Ms Hildegard Pirker and Dr Brett Gardner, an alumnus from the Faculty of Veterinary Science and veterinarian from Johannesburg.

On his arrival at the Faculty’s hospital, he was placed under anaesthetic to allow handling. Dr Ian R Millward, a veterinary surgeon at the Faculty took charge of the lion’s health assessment procedures and he performed physical, musculoskeletal, and neurological examinations. A neurological abnormality in the lower lumbar spine was identified and blood was taken for further tests while a spinal tap was performed to collect cerebrospinal fluid for further testing.

The lion’s spine was further assessed when Prof Ann Carstens, a specialist veterinary radiologist, performed a myelogram and a CT scan of the area of concern. At the time of publication, no radiological or CT evidence was seen to explain the hindlimb weakness, Prof Carstens said. Throughout all the procedures, Dr Brighton Dzikiti, an anaesthetist in the Department of Companion Animal Clinical Studies, was monitoring the condition of the lion under anaesthetic. While the exact cause has yet to be determined, once all the test results were available the veterinarians involved with this case should have a better understanding of the animal’s condition. A decision can then be taken with regard to possible treatment options.

In the meantime Genghis late last night arrived safely back at the sanctuary. According to Ms Pirker, who is his caretaker for the last two years, he was a bit unstable on his feet from a horrid trip which included a heavy thunderstorm which forced them to drive about 40 km/hour. However, today he is much happier and glad to be back in his own empire.

 

Dr Ian Millward, a veterinary surgeon busy performing physical, musculoskeletal and neurological examinations on Genghis

Prof Ann Carstens, specialist radiologist (right) and Lizette Odendaal, a veterinary nursing sister are preparing the lion for diagnostic imaging

Prof Ann Carstens, a specialist veterinary radiologist, performed a myelogram and a CT scan on the lion

Dr Richard Burroughs (left) of the Faculty's Centre for Veterinary Wildlife Studies and Dr Brighton Dzikiti about to administer an anaesthetic



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