Lioness Sasha’s recovery fun

Catnip boxes, melons, pumpkins, logs, and a swing keep Sasha entertained at the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary, South Africa (ADIWS) – all of which she enjoys after major surgery on her leg.

There is probably no better character to illustrate our work than indomitable lioness, Sasha. We found her in her circus cage in Guatemala, clearly in pain and limping badly. X-rays at the ADI Temporary Rescue Unit in Guatemala revealed a brutal declawing operation had resulted in a toe being crushed, instead of cut off as the circus owners intended. In our field hospital, the toe was amputated but we discovered disease had spread up her leg – she needed specialist help. After Sasha had settled in at ADIWS, she was taken to Dr Peter Caldwell, who removed 8cm of damaged bone and replaced it with a titanium scaffold and bone cement.

On her return to ADIWS, Sasha was kept in her house for bed rest, and ADI supporters pitched in to build a special rehabilitation enclosure to prevent her from too much running about as she recovered. Her space to run and play was increased very slowly, soft catnip boxes, melons and pumpkins were added as her leg healed. After several weeks of rehab, Sasha can now use her full feeding camp, of over 4,000 sq.ft.

Sasha still has a profound limp, but she is not in pain – because she held her leg up for so many years, the tendons have shortened, and she is also mentally familiar with moving in that way. It will take a long time for her to get used to walking on the leg, and it should gradually straighten. Her movement and robust playing shows that she is comfortable. The sanctuary team has now added a step for her to get up onto her platform, and she happily leaps up and down. Her friend from the circus, Kimba, comes over to the fence to watch as she plays! We hope they can, eventually, be reunited.

In the coming weeks, Sasha will be returning to hospital for new x-rays and a thorough evaluation of her progress. This brave girl withstood everything a cruel circus world threw at her, and we will keep doing everything we can to give her the life she deserves. The animals we rescue need long-term care, can you help?

P.S. Please remember, never declaw animals (domestic or wild)!

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