Al Ain zoo staff battle to save a lion couple

Zoologists in the eastern oasis town of Al Ain performed a rare mouth surgery on a lion and intend to operate on a lioness Sunday as they try to save the two predators which were seized by authorities after they were smuggled across the border with Saudi Arabia more than a year ago.

The Al Ain Wildlife Park, one of the largest wildlife protection centres in the region, had to bring in a well-known veterinarian from South African to perform the surgery on the animal’s tusks and gum after it was found that its tusks had been grated and claws cut off, Alittihad newspaper said on Sunday.

Zoo officials decided to operate on the lion and the lioness after they suffered from a severe inflammation in the gum and other parts of the mouth.

Saturday’s operation on the lion lasted around four hours and the lioness is to undergo a similar surgery on Sunday, the paper said.

The lion couple were seized by inspectors from the ministry of environment and water just after they were smuggled from Saudi Arabia in March 2010.

“Yesterday’s operation was successful and the lion will be subject to a treatment process for a week, during which we will give it antibiotics and painkillers,” said Dr Arshad Tusi, head of the vet operations at the Park.

“We cannot release the two lion into nature because they do not have tusks and will not be able to hunt and survive…they will stay in the zoo and we will make sure they will be fed normally,” he said.

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