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Medical procedures go smoothly for lion brothers


The co-king has returned! Kamaia is back in the African lion habitat alongside his brother Dinari doing what they love to do best: playing, exploring enrichment, roaring and lounging, of course.

The animal care team is pleased with Kamaia’s continued recovery following the splenectomy and follow-up procedure to repair the incision. He’s been eager to be back outside with his brother and the pair have been seen nuzzling and sunning together. Still, our care team is keeping a close eye on him. While he's outside with Dinari today, please note there may be some days that Kamaia may not go outside.

Welcome back, big fella.


Since surgery, Kamaia has been recovering very well and his anemia has greatly improved. Earlier today though, some of his sutures opened, which necessitated another procedure under anesthesia to repair the incision. During the procedure, it was discovered that some of the membranes in his abdomen had herniated through the incision site, which the veterinary team surgically repaired. There was no involvement of any of the internal organs. The surgery went well, and Kamaia is recovering in his off-exhibit space where his care team is closely monitoring him.

We appreciate the continued care and concern Kamaia, as well as our Animal Care and Veterinary teams.

Today, Kamaia, a 14-year-old lion, underwent a successful splenectomy and blood transfusion at Franklin Park Zoo.

During the transfusion, Kamaia, who is severely anemic, received blood from his brother Dinari, also 14. Yesterday, Dinari underwent a short procedure in order for the Zoo’s veterinary team to collect blood for the transfusion.

Following an exam last week, it was discovered that Kamaia was severely anemic with a greatly enlarged spleen. He has been experiencing serious health issues, including a bout with pneumonia earlier in the spring. It was suspected that he had chronic underlying health issues, although comprehensive diagnostic tests had been inconclusive.

Today’s surgery, which lasted approximately 3 hours, was necessary to try to determine the exact cause of his ongoing health issues. Kamaia’s spleen was massively enlarged - at least twice the size it should be. Samples from his spleen are being sent out for further testing, and results are not expected for about a week. Beyond the massively enlarged spleen, there was nothing else abnormal found during surgery.

“Now that his spleen has been removed and he has received the blood transfusion, we are hopeful that he will be feeling better very soon. This was a major surgery, and we will continue to monitor him closely to ensure that he is comfortable and recovering well,” said Dr. Chris Bonar, Zoo New England Director of Animal Health. “Blood transfusions are not often performed in zoological settings because it can difficult to find a suitable donor. Because Kamaia and his brother were littermates, Dinari was the perfect donor for this much needed transfusion.”

During Kamaia’s procedure, the Zoo New England veterinary team was assisted by Dr. Emily McCobb, veterinary anesthesiologist and associate clinical professor—and class of 2000 alumna—at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University; Dr. Elhanan Lehmann, veterinary anesthesiology resident at Cummings School, and Dr. Alexandra Pfaff, emergency and critical care veterinarian and assistant clinical professor at Cummings School.

“We have been so touched by the tremendous outpouring of support for the lion brothers and our incredible team who works so hard to care for them,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England President and CEO. “The work done over the past two days has been extraordinary, and I couldn’t be prouder of the team. We remain hopeful that Kamaia has a smooth recovery.”

Kamaia is expected to remain in his off-exhibit space for the next few weeks so that his care team can closely monitor him while he continues to recover.

Dinari and Kamaia have resided at Franklin Park Zoo since 2015.