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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ariel the lion dies despite internet campaign to raise funds to treat paralysed legs

By Mail Foreign Service

Caring: Ariel's owner Raquel Borges launched the Facebook campaign to raise money to care for her paralysed lion

A lion in Brazil that was the focus of an internet campaign to raise money to treat its paralysed legs has died, its owner revealed.

Raquel Borges - who had been trying to nurse Ariel back to health - revealed he had died on a Facebook page set up to appeal for donations.

'Our beloved Ariel is gone. This is the saddest day of my life,' she wrote.

Vet Livia Pereira, who cared for Ariel recently, said that for unknown reasons the lion’s white blood cells attacked healthy cells due to a degenerative disease affecting a portion of the brainstem.

The three-year-old 140kg lion started limping last year and soon was unable to move its legs.

Earlier this month an internet campaign on the popular social networking site attracted 35,000 supporters to help raise the $11,500 needed each month to pay for Ariel’s treatment.

Pereira believed Ariel’s symptoms were similar to those of multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and Guillain-Barre syndrome - an autoimmune disorder that can cause paralysis.

Routine: Vet Livia Pereira took Aerial home to care for him full-time. However, today it was revealed he has died

Kindness: Vet Livia Pereira snuggles in to paralysed lion Ariel

A team of Israeli veterinary neurologists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who tested Ariel to see what degenerative disease was involved, were due to publish their results later this month.

Their trip to Brazil was paid for by Graziela Barrette, a Brazilian model living in New York, who had been moved after hearing of Ariel’s plight.

Ariel was born in the shelter that Borges and her husband run in the southern city of Maringa, where they care for sick or abandoned animals.

She said: ‘He was a perfectly normal and docile lion that slept with me until he was 10-months-old.’

Last year, after spending hours leaping and chasing balloons, Ariel started limping. 'I could tell he was in pain,' she added.

Days later he was unable to move his two hind legs and after surgery to remove a herniated disc he lost control of his front legs.

Passed out: Ariel lies on a mattress, propped up by packets of toilet rolls. There had been a large battle to save him

Loving: Vet Livia Pereira kisses paralysed lion Ariel who had lost the use of his legs



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