Friday, 22 July 2011

Ariel the lion

There has been some degree of e-interest in the case of Ariel the lion. Ariel is a three year old, 140-kg lion, born in Brazil, in an animal shelter belonging to Raquel Borges. Unfortunately, a year ago, what started as a minor case of limping, within days culminated in an inability to move his hind legs. After a surgery to remove a herniated disc, he lost control of his front legs as well.

Tests failed to diagnose anything and veterinary neurologists from the Hebrew University are to publish their results on Ariel's case later this month. Some hypotheses have been voiced: a debilitating virus, a degenerative/autoimmune disease (potentially affecting his medulla causing the WBCs to attack the normal cells). Other potential causes could be Lactate Dehydrogenase-Elevating Virus which causes extensive destruction of motor neurons (Contag and Plagemann, 1989). One previous study communicated progressive hind limb ataxia, loss of proprioception, and eventual recumbency in five adult cheetahs in an Austrian zoo (Walzer and Kübber-Heiss, 1995), all of which had massive demyelination in their spinal cords. Interesting, the local zoo here in Trivandrum has also battled similar cases (in a leopard and tiger) and similar incidents have been reported in the forests.

His carers have launched a Facebook campaign and website to raise money towards his treatment and upkeep (circa $11,500 per month).

It was illuminating to read some of the responses from the readers, most of whom opined that the owners were cruel and selfish in keeping Ariel alive. As is the viewpoint of many an owner of pets, the consensus edged on euthanising Ariel. Indeed, the animal is in a terrible plight and I commend those who take such diligent care of him. But having been a pet owner for over 25 years, I empathise that it is exceptionally hard to put down a dear pet. Many of my pets (mostly rescued), over the years, have been down similar routes when vets would completely wash their hands off. In many a case, TLC, medicines, perseverance, and patience led them to complete recovery.

Contag, CH and PGW Plagemann (1989). Age-Dependent Poliomyelitis of Mice: Expression of Endogenous Retrovirus Correlates with Cytocidal Replication of Lactate Dehydrogenase-Elevating Virus in Motor Neurons. Journal of Virology, 63 (10), 4362-4369.

Walzer, C and A Kübber-Heiss (1995). Progressive Hind Limb Paralysis in Adult Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus). Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, 26 (3), 430-435


David said...

What a sad story. I can sympathise with the awful decision of having to put down a creature that had become part of the family, a friend. I hope there can be a happy ending. I looked for this story on the sites of the two main Brazilian newspapers, O Globo and Folha de Sao Paulo, and rather surprisingly didn't find any mention.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, I wonder why? It did seem to be a legitimate appeal!



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