As many of you may have seen in the news, Tuesday was a big day for all of us at Lory Park, Chaos our oldest male lion went for his first radiation treatment.
Chaos was sadly diagnosed with skin cancer on his nose and hind leg in the middle of April this year. Needless to say, it was not the prognosis that we wanted to hear, but unfortunately these things happen, even to big strong lions but a zoo must always be emotionally and financially prepared for these unfortunate occurrences. After lengthy discussion with our veterinarian and other specialists the best option was to treat the affected area on his nose with radiation therapy. Unfortunately because of the placement of the lesions, they cannot be removed surgically without deforming his face, meaning that part of his nose would need to be removed and this would lead to other health problems and also be impossible to treat on a daily basis. The lesion on his leg will be removed surgically.
Chaos is our oldest lion at the park, having turned 16 on 13 April 2019. He was the first lion raised by Eddy and Matty Van Eck, he was the beginning of a new era for Lory Park and became a proud ambassador for his kind. A strong lion with a beautiful heart and the warmest eyes you have ever seen. Chaos is not simply a lion, as with all of our animals, he is part of our family. Lions in captivity have a life expectancy of 22 years and with this in mind and the fact that Chaos was found to be otherwise healthy by our vet, we chose to go through with his treatment, as he deserves a good quality of life as he grows older.
Zoos and aquariums around the world go to massive extents to ensure the health of their animals and Lory Park is no different…
In South Africa there are no radiation therapy treatment centres for animals and so many of our private hospitals offer this service to the veterinary world. Meudmed Mediclinic works closely with Onderstepoort and have provided this service to other animals in the past. We would also like to clarify that these treatments get done at a cost and are by no means for free, we felt this worth mentioning because there were some concerns in comments regarding the news that animals are getting preferential treatment to humans, it is important to know that this is not the case. Lory park will bend under its financial burden to cover these medical costs, but we love Chaos and all our animals, they will always get the best care and treatment that they deserve, just as any parent would go to great lengths to treat their children.
Chaos was anaesthetized at 10:30 am at the zoo, he was then stabilized and all 260kg of lion was loaded by 8 strong keepers into a secure crate and driven to Meudmed. He was accompanied by a full veterinarian team for the entire journey. Once at the clinic, there was a very professional team waiting to receive him at a private entrance. He had to be offloaded by hand and that gave many of the team an idea of how heavy a male lion really is! But it was done with great enthusiasm and respect. Once in the radiation area Chaos had to be maneuvered and prepared for the treatment which took a while as this was the first time, it will go much quicker on the next visits as everything is now memorized and set up for him. The treatment itself went smoothly and quickly and our vet was allowed in at short intervals to check on his vitals. Once complete, we had to work very quickly to get him back into his crate before he woke up as our vet did not want to administer anymore drugs unnecessarily, although a top up is always kept close at hand. Once in the crate a reversal drug is administered to wake him up, the less time he spends under anesthesia the better it is for his health. The trip back to the zoo went smoothly and by the time we arrived at his enclosure to off load it was 13:15pm, and he was happy to walk out and be at home sweet home with his beautiful wife Tequila.
We still have 3 treatments to go but we are positive and hopeful that Chaos will make a good recovery.
We would like to thank everyone for all their prayers and good wishes during this time we really appreciate your kindness and support. For those who are able to and would like to assist us financially with Chaos’ treatments we would be ever grateful, and your donations may go to the follow account with Chaos as a reference:
Lory Park Zoo
Account number: 62046524288
Branch code: 250117
Please inform Kara of your donation and your personal details so that we may keep you updated on his well-being as well as transparency regarding all his treatments and veterinary costs.
Tortoises of South Africa
During this time of the year we see a rise in public drop offs. This really can be anything from little birds found in the garden to chameleons found crossing the streets but the one species we receive most often is the tortoise.
There is no other region on earth that houses a greater diversity of tortoises than Africa. In South Africa alone we have a number of different species including the Leopard tortoise, Hingeback tortoise, Tent tortoise, Geometric tortoise, Angulate tortoise and Pygmy tortoise. These species range all over Africa from the coastline to the desert regions. Because of this they show great preference to their ecological niches.
In South Africa tortoises are a popular pet, although this is illegal without permitting. Unfortunately, although they seem to be a simple animal to keep, they have a large list of requirements that make them prone to deficiencies while in captive care. They are also very long lived, most living well over 30 years in captivity. Tortoises in the wild may live a lot longer.
Tortoises feed on a natural diet of grasses, shrubs, succulents and flowers. This is very much dependent on where the tortoises come from. In captivity it is often seen that people feed too much wet food such as lettuce, tomato and fruit. These foods change the pH of the gut which leads to colic. Lettuce has no nutritional value as it is mostly water and only allows for the animal to feel full. Tortoises should get as much dark greens and natural food as possible, such as mulberry leaves, hibiscus flowers and pieces of succulent plants when they are in captivity.
All reptiles need a balance between the amount of calcium, UVB light and vitamin D. This is not easily obtained in a captive environment. Tortoises housed indoor require a good quality UVB light and the correct calcium supplements that can be put on their food. Tortoise will enter a state of torpor during the winter seasons, often while in captivity, this is hindered due to temperature conditions.
In South Africa tortoises are frequently sold on the side of the road or they are picked up in regions such as the Cape and brought with families to Gauteng. These animals can now no longer be released back into the wild as their exact location is unknown. Many people feel the need to buy tortoises that have been caught illegally in desperation to save the animals life. While this is done out of goodwill and with a good heart, it helps support this trade which is decimating the wild populations.
The tortoise seen below was donated to the zoo recently. Unfortunately, he shows typical signs of malnutrition and metabolic bone disease. It appears as if he does not fit in his shell. The shell is also incredible soft. For our new little hatchling he has a long road ahead of him, it is not just his shell that is affected but also his internal organs and limbs. Through good husbandry and lots of care we hope to get him right and we hope that he will encourage others not to keep tortoises as pets. Tortoises are really best left where they belong.
There is no place like home
With the wonderful news that our Siberian Tigers, Katja and Dushan, have settled into their beautiful new retirement home of 6 hectares , we have taken the great opportunity to revamp their old enclosure into a brand new Jaguar exhibit.
After a few months of gruelling work, Jupiter and Leia have moved into their thrilling new exhibit on Friday the 15th May and where out on display on Saturday 16 may. The new enclosure will bring so many new improvements for the Jags, and we are all bursting at the seams with excitement to see them enjoying the extra space and especially the larger pond.
Our new enclosure boasts a more spacious separation area, which will be used during feeding. This together with much bigger night rooms will also play an important role for Leia, giving her the comfort she needs when giving birth and rearing cubs.
As Jaguars are such formidable creatures, their enclosure would not be complete without a roof. This was probably the most daunting task of all, considering the engineering and steel work that had to go into it. But with our unpredictable power cuts we cannot rely solely on electric fencing to keep Jupiter and Leia in. Their safety and that of our visitors and staff is always our first priority.
Without the help of you, our sponsors, these improvements would not be possible and we would like to thank you for the opportunity you have given us to enrichment our Jaguars lives. We hope that you will be able to take some time and come and see them in their new home soon!
A house just for reptiles
Lory Park officially opened its new reptile centre on 29 August 2015. This was thanks to the kind generosity of Zieta Coetzee. We are very proud of our state of art reptile centre and invite all to come and enjoy the experience.
Wonkys new house
Happy day for Bailey(Wonky) and Baruk
For all of you who know Wonky or have heard of her, I am sure you will share in our joy as we moved them to their new enclosure on 08 July 2014. When Wonky came back from Cape Town some years ago, with the news that she had cerebral palsy, we had to build her an enclosure that was safe and friendly so that she would not hurt herself. Since she did so well on the beach in Cape Town, and the sand improved her balance tremendously we decided to make her enclosure with sea sand.
As the years have passed and Wonky and her sister have out grown the enclosure and it has become too small for the big girls, we also noticed everytime we let them into the safety cage area where there was a patch of grass they just refused to move and rubbed and preened on the grass, evidently they were telling us something. But this meant we needed more space for an enclosure, something Lory Park has run out of in a serious way. We were at a dead end.
Then fortunately our prays were answered, and we managed to aquire a little extra land, thanks to our neighbours. We were able to move our infamous beautiful Lions Chaos and Tequila to a larger enclosure and their enclosure became available for Wonky and Baruk which was twice the size of the existing one, and we could offer them both grass and sand! And so it all began, we first had to build Chaos's new enclosure before we could move them and this took some long tiring months, but it got done. We then had to revamp their old enclosure and make it comfortable for Bailey and Baruk, believe me moving tons of sand over with a wheel barrow was no fun! But certainly worth the effort.
The morning was fresh and crisp and I woke up with a jingle in my step and a happy song in my heart. My precious girl was moving to her new house and I had waited long enough for this day. I was so excited and I could see the cats knew something was up, their excitement was showing too. We managed to walk Wonky over to her new enclosure and when she entered she looked at me as if to say" wow is this for me?" If she was human she would have hugged me hard and kissed my face all over, and she sure did in her Puma kind of way. Baruk was a little uneasy about this whole move, and a little reluctant to leave her safe place, so we coaxed her into a carry box and carried her over like Queen of Sheba. When she came out of the box, she was pricless, being the Tomboy that she is, she explored and climed and scratched as if to say "wow guys this is way cool!".
In all it was a very special day for all of us, they truly are our darlings and it makes us happy to see them so content in their new home.