CORVALLIS, OR (KPTV) – A 5-year-old lioness that was previously a resident of an infamous big cat facility is receiving the care she needs in Oregon.
According to Oregon State University, doctors at the university’s veterinary hospital performed a surgery on Chobe the lioness on Monday.
In 2018, Chobe was rescued from the Oklahoma exotic animal park run by Joe Exotic, the well-known zookeeper from the Netflix docuseries “Tiger King.” She has lived at the WildCat Ridge Sanctuary in Scotts Mills, Oregon since mid-2019.
According to the sanctuary’s executive assistant Ian Ford, Chobe is a “mismatch of genetics” due to inbreeding and a little stubby in appearance — “like a giant guinea pig” — but is a very sweet and expressive animal.
Joe Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, was sentenced to 22 years in prison after his conviction in a murder-for-hire plot and several wildlife violations.
The zoo where Chobe once lived had its federal animal exhibition license suspended in August.
On Monday, Chobe went to Corvallis for a CT scan, which revealed a distended uterus caused by an infection, OSU said.
Pyometra is a fairly common infection among female big cats in captivity, according to Dr. Katy Townsend, an associate professor of small animal surgery in the Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine and the surgeon who operated on Chobe. When left untreated, pyometra can lead to serious health problems.
Chobe’s surgery involved removing both her uterus and ovaries.
“Essentially it’s just like doing a cat spay, but on a mega scale,” Townsend said in a statement proved by OSU. “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.”
Since giving big cats pain medication can be a challenge, the surgical team used a three-day local anesthetic during the procedure to help Chobe get the pain relief she’ll need in the days to come, Townsend said in the statement.
Townsend told FOX 12 that the most difficult part of Chobe’s surgery was making sure she was kept under enough anesthesia.
“Trying to get that thing to sleep safely as far as not getting anyone's head ripped off or anything. We're really lucky here [because] we have a great team. My part of the job is easy, it's a spay on a gigantic cat compared to like your domestic cat, but the anesthesia side is obviously terrifying,” said Townsend.
Chobe is now on the mend and once she’s ready, she’ll return to WildCat Ridge Sanctuary.
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