U of M Veterinary Medical Center treats rare white lion

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Photo credit The Wildcat Sanctuary

The University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center is treating a rare white lion who traveled from Argentina to live out his days at The Wildcat Sanctuary in Sandstone, Minn.

According to the medical center, Gino arrived late last year and has recently having some serious medical issues. Gino was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and began having neurological symptoms, as well.

"Gino was kind of staring at the sky, not engaging in eye contact with humans or other animals," said Tammy Thies, the executive director of the Wildcat Sanctuary. "He would do a circle pattern for a while, so we knew somehow his brain wasn't communicating with the rest of his body." 

"During the cold spells in Minnesota, when he had neurological symptoms, our biggest concern was when he wasn’t functioning properly he didn’t want to go indoors to heated areas and that’s not acceptable for a lion in Minnesota," Thies added. 

Veterinarians have hope that the lion will be fine, however. 

"His blood vessels are beautiful and his liver actually looks very, very good," said Dr. Micky Trent, associate professor in the Department of Veterinary Population Medicine. "There’s no indication he has any gross abnormalities." 

"As you can imagine, treating a full-grown lion can be very costly, especially for a non-profit sanctuary. This visit alone will run into thousands of dollars for Gino’s care," the sanctuary said in a release. 

Until April 30th, The Wildcat Sanctuary's donors are offering to match any donation in order to help provide the care Gino and many other rescued wild cats need daily here in Minnesota. 

If you’d like to help, please visit WildcatSanctuary.org.  

The veterinarians believe Gino will grow up to be a healthy and happy adult lion. 

"We deal with special needs animals all the time and Gino is special needs but he’s also just special to us so we will keep him as happy and comfortable as long as we can and we hope he’s there for years to come," Thies said.