Lion with earache gets CAT scan

Asiatic lion Bhanu was checked by London Zoo's vets

London Zoo hired a CAT scanner to investigate 12-year-old Bhanu's persistent ear pain. PA
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An endangered lion that has suffered with recurring ear problems looks set to roar back into action following a CAT scan at London Zoo.

Twelve-year-old Asiatic lion Bhanu had frequent pain in his left ear canal and attempts to resolve the issue, including specialist ear examinations and cleaning, failed.

Now, however, vets at London Zoo have formulated a treatment plan after hiring a CAT scanner for the first time, to “find out what was causing the problem and urgently rule out any worst-case scenarios”.

Taina Strike, the zoo’s senior veterinary officer, said: “We wanted to devise the best long-term treatment plan for Bhanu, but we first had to find out what was causing the problem and urgently rule out any worst-case scenarios, such as a tumour or a deep-seated infection, which would show up on a CAT scan immediately.

“Bhanu is an important member of the European-wide breeding programme for endangered Asiatic lions and deserves the very best care, so we arranged the full VIP treatment, bringing a CAT scanner to a big cat for the first time, so we could see deeper into his ear without him needing to travel.”

Veterinarians treating Bhanu wanted to look at his left ear canal. PA

Australian diagnostic imaging specialist David Reese was present via video-link and quickly identified the problem — Bhanu has a narrow left ear canal which is more prone to blockages and infections.

The team have now created a long-term treatment plan for his care, in which he will receive oral medication to reduce inflammation in his ear canal and antifungal medicines to deal with infection.

The 180-kilogram lion was anaesthetised before being lifted on to the scanner by six team members.

Updated: July 11, 2022, 2:02 PM