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Lioness rescued from ‘Tiger King’ facility gets surgery at OSU vet hospital

Chobe currently lives at a facility in Scotts Mills, which recognized symptoms of a concerning condition common in female lions in captivity.

Posted: Nov 24, 2020 2:19 PM

CORVALLIS, Ore. – An extra-large patient came in for an appointment at Oregon State University’s veterinary hospital on Monday.

University officials said a lioness that had been rescued from “Tiger King” Joe Exotic’s Oklahoma facility in 2018 needed a surgery after a scan found a distended uterus caused by an infection.

Dr. Katy Townsend said this is a fairly common infection among female big cats in captivity.

Townsend operated on Chobe, removing her uterus and ovaries.

“Essentially it’s just like doing a cat spay, but on a mega scale,” Townsend said. “Surgery went really well; we were able to cleanly get everything out in a short amount of time. We expect her to make a full recovery from this.”

Chobe received a three-day local anesthetic during the procedure to help with the pain.

The lioness now lives at the WildCat Ridge Sanctuary in Scotts Mills.

Staff at the facility noticed concerning symptoms of the condition and brought Chobe in for a CT scan, which confirmed their suspicions.

“We're hoping that this surgery is going to make sure that everything’s OK for her, and she can get back to just living her life in peace and happiness, which is the only thing that we want for all of our residents,” sanctuary executive assistant Ian Ford said.

Ford said Chobe’s unusual appearance is due to inbreeding that took place at Joe Exotic’s facility. He said she is very sweet and expressive and came to the Scotts Mills facility in mid-2019.

The 5-year-old animal will hopefully be back to normal soon. Ford said he’s looking forward to it: “Just having her roll around in the grass with her buddy Kariba and back to getting her paws up in the air and just enjoying herself.”

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