Image: © ZSL London Zoo

London Zoo Vets Treat an Asiatic Lion with an Earache


The Animal Facts Editorial Team


June 29, 2023 8:13 pm


London, The United Kingdom

ZSL London Zoo vets have been called upon to help cure the earache of an endangered Asiatic lion. A team of specialists were assembled from across the United Kingdom to ensure the VIP patient received the absolute best care possible.

The main purpose of the check-up was to perform a yearly clean on the ear canal of Asiatic lion, Bhanu. Vets put in place the yearly clean after a CAT-scan last year revealed that the 13 year old lion suffers from having a narrow ear canal. This has caused a persistent ear infection which requires ongoing care.

While all creatures great and small can develop an ear infection they are made worse in Bhanu as ear drops can not reach the affected ear through the narrowed ear canal. Bhanu was prescribed regular inflammatory and anti-fungal medication, as well as an annual health-check and ear clean.

London Zoo Veterinarian Stefan Saverimuttu said: “Bhanu’s comfort and wellbeing are our top priorities, and they inform every decision we make. We filled his cosy indoor den with soft straw in preparation for the procedure, and thanks to expert training from London Zoo’s zookeepers and veterinary nurses, Bhanu chose to calmly present his leg so we could administer the general anaesthetic. It took no time at all before Bhanu drifted off under his cooling blanket - designed to regulate his temperature - and we could get to work cleaning his ear.”  

To complete the procedure a specialist endoscopy camera was sent down his ear canal to give a crystal clear view of the inner ear. Around the size of a pipe cleaner the camera is able to easily work its way through the narrow passage.

Bhanu was in good hands with a team made up of ZSL’s veterinary team, the Royal Veterinary College and veterinary equipment specialists STORZ, who provided the very specialist camera used in the procedure. To help improve care for Asiatic lions in human care globally the team will share findings from the treatment.

“This yearly check-up helps us to provide the very best care for Bhanu’s ears, but also means we can monitor his overall health at the same time - checking his eyes, teeth and heart are all in tip top condition too. This is vital for Bhanu, but also for his species; Bhanu is an important member of the European-wide breeding programme for Endangered Asiatic lions, designed to protect a healthy and genetically diverse population in conservation zoos across Europe.” 

Soon after the procedure Bhanu was returned to his Land of the Lions home where he could roam alongside female, Arya.

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More on Lions!

While the Asiatic lion rules over Asia their African cousins command the African savanna. You can find out more about this species on our website.

Our Favourite Asiatic Lion Fact!

Females are responsible for catching the prey. To help catch their food they have retractable claws and sharp canine teeth.

Image: © ZSL London Zoo

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