As the world mourns Cecil the lion, who was reportedly shot by an American dentist in Zimbabwe, a much happier ending has emerged for another member of the big cat family. On Wednesday in Israel, a veterinary surgeon removed a tumor from an 8-year-old African lion named Samuni.
Samuni’s keepers at the Ramat Gan Safari near Tel Aviv discovered that he had a growth on his belly. The growth underwent a biopsy to determine if it was benign or malignant, but since the results were inconclusive, safari veterinarians decided to remove the whole tumor as a precaution.
The removal surgery took two hours. But getting the lion to cooperate was more challenging and required knocking him out with an anesthetic dart. Now, Samuni is already expected to return to his enclosed free-range habitat in the safari on Thursday, according to Haaretz.
“Every lion is extremely important for us here at the Safari and we will do everything we can to care for them and give them a quality life,” Ramat Gan Safari spokesperson Sagit Horowitz told ISRAEL21c. “There was no doubt that we’d take care of Samuni even though it is extremely difficult to anesthetize a lion. We knew that we would do everything to save his life.”
“The story of Cecil is horrifying, shocking and extremely sad,” she added. “It hurts that these things happen. We know the situation in nature is very difficult and that’s why when people say, ‘how can we keep animals in a zoo when their lives are so much better out in nature,’ we always say that you need to look at it from a balanced point of view. It’s not always easier for animals to be out in the wild. Here, all their needs are cared for and they’re treated with respect. No one will poach them here.”