LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Mashaka, the adult male lion at Lufkin's Ellen Trout Zoo, is well on his way on the road to recovery in the wake of suffering a vascular lesion in his spinal cord, according to an e-mail from the zoo's director.
"In less than three weeks, he has regained partial use of his affected legs and has managed to stand and take a few steps for brief periods," Gordon Henley, the director of the Ellen Trout Zoo, said in an e-mail. "Mashaka remains under the medical supervision of Dr. Lindsay Syler of the Angelina Animal Hospital and Dr. Mike Nance, the Zoo Staff Veterinarian. He is receiving constant attention from his keepers who are doing an excellent job of accommodating his current disabilities."
Henley said he and the zoo's staff are all encouraged by Mashaka's gradual improvements, and they expect these positive developments to continue over the next several weeks.
"We would like to thank all those that have expressed concern and encouragement for Mashaka," Henley said.
On Sept. 29, zoo workers found Mashaka down in his stall. When Syler examined the lion, he suspected a brain or spinal lesion. However, plain radiographs didn't show any noticeable lesions.
Henley said in early October that blood work showed mild increases in Mashaka's liver levels and mild dehydration, so they gave him fluids, antibiotics and liver supplements. Henley said he then shows some improvement the next day, but was still unable to move normally.
Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists Neurology in Houston was able to provide an MRI for Mashaka on Friday and was able to find a vascular lesion at C5 in his spinal cord.
Henley said vascular lesions are reported in large cats and can respond to medical treatment.