WATCH: Lion receives life-saving radiation treatment in a first for Pretoria hospital

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Chaos the lion receives radiation treatment in hospital. Picture: Screen grab
Chaos the lion receives radiation treatment in hospital. Picture: Screen grab

Chaos, a 16-year-old lion, has been given a new lease on life after receiving radiation treatment for skin cancer at a Pretoria hospital.

The final procedure was performed at Mediclinic Muelmed on Friday.

He is the oldest lion at the Lory Park Animal and Owl Sanctuary in Midrand, but was diagnosed with a rare form of skin cancer just after his 16th birthday in April.

"He has a squamous cell carcinoma on the nose," Dr Katja Koeppel, a wildlife clinician at the University of Pretoria's Onderstepoort campus, told News24.

The cancer was eating away at his nose and, if left untreated, would have forced the sanctuary to put him down.

In a post on their website, Lory Park said: 

"Chaos is not simply a lion. As with all of our animals, he is part of our family." 

The post went on to explain that there are no radiation therapy treatment centres for animals in South Africa, which is why so many private hospitals offer this service to the veterinary world.

Mediclinic Muelmed has had a longstanding working relationship with Onderstepoort, radiation oncologist Dr Ingo de Mûelenaere told News24.

"We've treated quite a few of their patients previously," he said.

Some of these patients included domestic animals like dogs and cats, and even a chicken. Although he had also treated a leopard and cheetah before, De Mûelenaere said having a lion at the facility was "a step up".

"It's a little bit bigger, teeth are bigger - a bit more scary," he said.

Chaos weighs roughly 260kg.

The lion received his final radiation treatment on Friday.

"He's responded remarkably well. With the four treatments, the lesions - which were open, raw, ulcerative, deep craters on his nose - have all cleaned up and you can see the scabbing and the pinkness," Koeppel said.

She added that lions could live for 20 to 22 years in captivity, so Chaos should have "a few more years of really good living experience in captivity".

De Mûelenaere said he was "90% convinced" that Chaos would make a full recovery.

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