Excuse me, nurse, is that a lion they just wheeled past?
A big cat called Chaos needs radiation treatment, and a Pretoria human hospital is the only place available
Patients at a Pretoria hospital can expect an unlikely bedfellow in the weeks to come with a lion named Chaos popping in and out for skin cancer treatment.
The 16-year-old lion underwent his first bout of radiation treatment at Muelmed Hospital on Tuesday, addressing cancerous growths on his nose.
The hulking predator – sedated and heaved onto a gurney – was wheeled through the halls to the hospital’s oncology wing.
“It was quite a sight for hospital staff, I’m sure,” Lory Park Zoo manager Kara Heynis told Times Select.
“Taking a lion into a hospital is not something we do often, and the first trip was a learning curve for us. He certainly turned some heads,” she added.
The aggressive treatment plan follows the discovery of wounds on the big cat’s nose last month, and a biopsy which revealed a carcinoma.
“We consulted with a vet and a host of others and radiation was really the only treatment option because of the anatomy of the animal. We would have otherwise cut the carcinomas out, but because there is very little skin on his nose we wouldn’t have been able to close the wound,” Heynis said.
This week’s treatment is the first of four, so Chaos will be a regular sight at the hospital.
“We had to go to the hospital because in South Africa there are no veterinary hospitals that offer the radiation treatment. Muelmed does all the radiation work for Onderstepoort [Veterinary Academic Hospital]. Chaos is not the first big cat to be treated there,” said Heynis.
“He has to go back next week for his next round of treatment. The first leg went really well, and from the time he was darted, taking him to the hospital and returning him to the zoo was around three hours for the entire procedure.”
The name Chaos, Heynis said, was a complete misnomer.
“He is a big softy. He was hand reared by the couple who owned the zoo and he would wander through their house and sleep on the couch. He would even jump on the tables and that is where his name came from,” she said.
Chaos is back to his boisterous self and recovering well after his first treatment.