New Life at CARE
As you may have noticed our CARE family has experienced tremendous loss over the past few years. It is sad to see the empty cages and remember all of the animals we have said goodbye to. The older cats have lived out full and happy lives with the love and support of many. CARE prides itself, most of all, on always putting the animals’ best interests first and our ability to provide unparalleled loving care.
This type of care is not an easy job, and the decisions can be difficult. Much of what we do goes above and beyond the norm. For example, our lions Sampson and Layla have been so happy together since they were first introduced. We wanted to be able to keep them together without the risk of pregnancy. Birth control implants are known to cause infection and cancer in big cats, so that was not an option. A spay for Layla would be an invasive and dangerous surgery (the risks of any surgery are greatly increased in big cats vs. domestic ones). Neutering Sampson would be the best option. However, when a male lion is neutered, their supply of testosterone is removed, and they will completely lose their mane. Lions are very proud animals and it is not uncommon for them to experience depression after losing such an important part of themselves. After much consideration, we decided that the best option was a vasectomy for Sam. Over a year ago, Dr. Bill operated on our big guy and the procedure went well. Sampson is no longer fertile and was able to keep his mane and his mate.
Months after the surgery we noticed Sampson was getting increasingly agitated towards Layla. When a male lion is “courting” a female he is obsessed with her. Sampson was sleeping, eating, and drinking very little. Month after month, he lost an incredible amount of weight as he failed to impregnate Layla. We had to ask ourselves, did we make the right decision?
Recently, Dr. Bill and I struggled with yet another problem, what we were going to do about Mwali, our one year old male lion?” Although still a cub, he would be at breading age at about 4 years old and lived with Noel, just over a year old herself. He developed his mane unbelievable young, so we knew we might not even have four years to make a decision. We decided to observe Sampson for a little while to help us make the best decision for our babies, Mwali and Noel.
This story started with sadness, loss, and empty cages. Well, we promise, this letter will not end on the same note. A little before young Mwali’s second birthday he gave a gift to Noel, and on a quiet, warm June morning that gift came to life. Noel, at only 2 ½, gave birth to three perfect male cubs. As you can imagine we were all in shock. Not only was the birth a complete surprise to us, but it is virtually unheard of. After much research we have not been able to find any evidence of a male lion successfully impregnating a female before his second birthday.
Three little miracles have arrived at CARE and CARE doesn’t seem quite so empty anymore.
Despite her young age, Noel has proved to be a perfect mother! Mom and and tiny Araali. Jelani and Zuberi having dinner in the back.
Although we had no plans for the little ones they have already melted the hearts of everyone here. How could they not? They are three precious baby lions that will grow up to be as magnificent as their parents, and receive all the love and protection that CARE has to offer.
We are also pleased to say that Mwali was successfully vasectomized July 1, 2014 and in the past month we started Sampson on a regimen of antianxiety medication, which has seemed to calm him significantly. So far, so good. We think we may have found the answer for both of our big boys.
We will be sharing more about the trio in the days and weeks to come so you can hear more about them. Right now, they are doing great and we are keeping things quiet and calm for them.
Heidi Krahn, Executive Director