Lion chokes on his dinner
23 May 2006
By JANINE BENNETTS
Orana Wildlife Park‘s only breeding male lion, Toby, has choked to death on a piece of meat.
The 200kg, eight-year-old lion died of asphyxiation about 11.30am on Sunday after a piece of meat he had tried to regurgitate and re-eat became lodged in his throat.
Park staff, including the animal keeper, who witnessed the incident, and two other senior staff members, who tried to revive the animal, are devastated.
Animal collection manager Ian Adams said it was common for lions to regurgitate and re-eat pieces of meat, but this was the first time in his 27 years feeding lions at the park that anything like this had happened.
"This was a freak accident, but it was so frustrating that there was nothing we could do to prevent it. We could only stand by and witness," he said.
"We are all just totally gutted to lose such a wonderful animal in this manner."
Toby has been buried in a sandy area behind the park.
"This sort of thing is the worst part of our job," Adams said.
"You become really attached to these animals. We work with them daily and they are like friends and family, so it is very difficult when you lose them."
Toby arrived at Orana in 1998 and has sired six cubs, all of which are at Orana.
Chief executive Lynn Anderson described Toby as a "stunningly beautiful animal".
"He was big, had an impressive dark mane and was very noisy, roaring most evenings," Anderson said. "We are shocked by his sudden passing.
"He was an icon figure at Orana."
The park still has 11 lions, but all young males had been castrated for easy management, and the park now needs to find another male breeding lion.
For the cats,
Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457
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