Rubber ball blamed for death of lion

June 6, 2009 at 3:58 PM
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LAS VEGAS, June 6 (UPI) -- Workers at the Southern Nevada Zoological-Botanical Park in Las Vegas suspect one of their lions grew ill and had to be euthanized after eating a rubber ball.

Zookeepers said after Midas the lion's blood became anemic and a surgery to improve the animal's health was unsuccessful, the zoo resident was euthanized, the Las Vegas Review-Journal said Saturday.

Zoo director Pat Dingle said the lion's unfortunate demise may have been the result of the animal eating a rubber football. The half-eaten remains of the toy had been found in zoo's lion exhibit a week ago.

Dingle said the ball may have come from a nearby thrift store whose employees tend to place discarded items by a fence that runs along the lion exhibit.

"They (the lions) dig up the ground right by that fence, trying to get at the stuff those guys dump," he told the Review-Journal.

Dingle added the zoo's remaining lion, Maniac Girl, appeared to take Midas' failing health and eventual disappearance hard, but said the animal has begun exhibiting signs of recovery.

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