UK media outlets reported last week that a lioness at Scotland’s biggest safari park was euthanized after the pride leader bit her spine.
Saskia, a 20-year-old lioness, died at Blair Drummond Safari Park last month; however details about the incident and her death have only just emerged.
Saskia was attacked by Zulu, a male member of the pride, and suffered a horrific bite to her spine during the battle.
Keepers worked closely with a veterinarian to treat Saskia. Despite medication her injuries were just too severe and a difficult decision was made to end her pain—Saskia was euthanized.
Zulu joined Blair Drummond on an exchange earlier this year, from Emmen Zoo in the Netherlands, which took the safari park’s lion Dudley.
He was introduced to the lionesses gradually over a two-month period, so they could get used to each other.
Park manager Gary Gilmour said fights were a normal part of life for the lions and they were monitored closely to make sure things didn’t get out of hand.
He added: “We tend to let the animals work things out between themselves, but the warden can drive his jeep in to separate them if necessary.
“Our staff worked with a vet, and we x-rayed Saskia, who seemed fine at first. We tried her on painkillers and anti-inflammatories. But sadly she wasn’t improving. It’s one of those unfortunate incidents.”
Gilmour denied claims made by PETA that the incident proves the park’s habitats are too small to minimize risk of deadly fights.
“We have a keeper in there 24-7 to separate the animals if a spat gets a bit too aggressive. And there is wide open space with lots of runs and platforms for the lions to run should a confrontation happen.”
Gilmour told The Observer: “This is just one of those tragic accidents. It’s never happened before.”