Chaos was hand reared from a few days old at the Lory Park animal and owl sanctuary, 18 miles south of Pretoria, and has lived there ever since. Chaos, now a full grow 570lb lion is receiving radiation treatment for skin cancer at a private hospital in South Africa – and was smuggled in by the back door to avoid frightening human patients.
The 16-year-old lion was unconscious and strapped face down on a trolley at the Muelmed Mediclinic, in Pretoria, north-east South Africa, as he was brought in to treat lesions on his nose.
The 570lb beast was being treated by the five-strong team of radiotherapists and one oncologist in the unusual setting because there are no radiation facilities for animals in South Africa.
The first session of the treatment, for which bandages covered his eyes and healthy parts of his nose to protect them, lasted only five minutes, The Times reported.
His keeper, Kara Heynis, said the radiotherapy was expensive but ‘absolutely worth it’.
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.
The lesions were seen a few weeks ago and were confirmed as cancerous after a biopsy.
Ms Heynis added: ‘He is like our child so we will do anything we need for him.’
Chaos is being kept in the shade in an enclosure he shares with a female until his treatment is complete in about a month.
Like a domestic house cat the average life expectancy for a lion is 14 in the wild and around 22 in captivity.
Sadly the concern and care is not extended to all Lions living in captivity.
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.
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.