The lion may be King of the Jungle, but it is man who controls the empire in which the jungle lays. Sadly, for this lioness, it was man that ripped her out of the jungle and left her fighting for her life.
Fortunately, it was man that helped her get through her pain and create something extraordinary with her life, too. This story of Sheila the lioness is really quite something. Take a look at her face and see how gaunt and thin she looks. You won’t believe the journey she’s been on since that photo was taken.
10. Meet Sheila
Sheila was a captured lioness. She’d been stolen from Africa to be kept as a pet/work animal in a private entertainment center in Texas. The center was not a caring environment and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) raided it and found Sheila so badly neglected they thought that she would die.
9. Almost Put Down
The USDA was so appalled by Sheila’s condition that they recommended that the In-Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue and Educational Center in Wylie, Texas put her down. They felt that it would be more merciful than trying to treat her. Sheila could barely eat or drink or even walk.
8. A Bad State
An In-Sync statement said, “She had very little muscle coordination, and thus when she walked, her legs would slip out from under her.” However, In-Sync refused to give up on Sheila and despite her shocking state they elected to care for her and try and nurse her back to health.
7. A Risky Task
In-Sync’s CEO Vicky Keahey was tasked with an important but risky role. She says, “For two weeks, I had to go in with Shiela and hand-feed her.” Sheila’s head wasn’t supporting itself properly on her shoulders and was dragging down to the right. They had to jury rig her head over a water bucket to ensure she could drink.
6. The Exotic Pet Trade
Sheila’s story, sadly, is not unique. There is a large trade in exotic animals in the United States and the trade often results in severe harm to the animals. This is partly during transport because the trade is illegal and partly at the hands of either inept or cruel new keepers.
5. The Cure
Sheila was malnourished and suffering from a parasite infection called toxoplasmosis. This infection is harmless to humans, but can kill even the biggest of cats. Fortunately, antibiotic treatments combined with large infusions of Vitamin A soon had Sheila returning to health. She began to walk and play like a normal lion of her age would.
4. Beautiful Color
Sheila’s unique in other ways, too. Her unique coloration is due to a chinchilla gene and that makes her white color very rare in the lion world. It only occurs in a place called Timbavati in South Africa, no other lions in the world are the same unusual color as Sheila.
3. Enter Kahn
Sheila’s story wasn’t over with her recovery. Meet Kahn the male lion who was also rescued by the In-Sync treatment center. He had been a show animal and the subject of severe abuse before coming to the center. Poor Kahn had even chewed his own tail off in distress.
2. Near Death
Kahn was also slowly starving. He weighed under 100 lbs less than his ideal weight when he was rescued. Despite this, Kahn was an incredibly good-natured animal and the staff at In-Sync were amazed by how friendly and tolerant he was around them. After all given his previous treatment, he could have been very angry.
1. A Love Match
Kahn, like Sheila, made a full recovery. It also turns out that Kahn likes Sheila and Sheila likes Kahn. Over a period of a few months, they went from shy strangers to good friends to intimate companions. They live safely in a custom built enclosure together where they are well taken care of.
Isn’t that just a fantastic story? Poor Sheila was almost put down because nobody expected her to make it but not only did Sheila respond to treatment but she met Kahn and fell in love.
It’s nice when stories like these have a happy ending because sadly, they all too often don’t turn out so well.
Please share this article with your friends and family on social media. It’s only by raising awareness of the cruelty of the exotic animals trade that resources will be provided to prevent further acts of cruelty. You could help save a lion like Sheila.