Sheila came to live with us after the USDA confiscated her and two white male lions from a local entertainment facility where they had not been cared for properly. Of the three, Sheila was in the worst condition. She had very little muscle coordination and thus, when she walked, her legs would slip out from under her.
Her head had a heavy tilt to the right so holding it upright was a challenge. Even drinking was almost impossible for her as she could not hold her head above the water bucket. She even had a hard time swallowing her food. She was also underweight, filthy and lethargic. She was in such poor condition that the USDA warned us that we would probably have to euthanize her. Four days after she arrived, Sheila was fading fast. She was vomiting, lethargic and laying flat on the ground. We feared that we might lose her but never gave up.
Although the USDA stated Sheila showed signs of Vitamin A deficiency, through our own research we learned that toxoplasmosis has the same symptoms but also includes constant circling, something Sheila did. We immediately started her on clindamycin. Two days later she was walking around; four days later she was eating and swallowing, and after a week she was playing happily. Tests results came back confirming toxoplasmosis and a drastic Vitamin A deficiency. Sheila has made remarkable improvement and shows no ill-effects of either condition. She has regained muscle control, swallows easily and runs and hops like a bunny. She loves toys, especially boxes, and she loves all the love and attention her caregivers willingly give her.
Sheila’s rare coloring is the result of a recessive gene called “chinchilla” or “color-inhibitor” and in the wild is only found in the Kruger sub-species and unique to the Timbavati region of South Africa.