Special Care for Shombay

Successfully Treating Kidney Disease in our Lion

Shombay, Reid Park Zoo’s male African lion, has successfully been treated for kidney disease since he was first diagnosed in 2016. His care team has been doing a spectacular job with his care and training, which has allowed the Zoo to provide him effective treatment for the last several years.

“Shombay was diagnosed with kidney failure as a result of a genetic disease that is more commonly seen in domestic purebred cats called polycystic kidney disease,” says Dr. Alexis Roth, Chief Veterinarian. “He is treated in much the same way as a domestic cat  just on a bigger scale, with several liters of subcutaneous fluids two to three times weekly as well as specific oral medications that help support his kidney function.”

Shombay the lion voluntarily participates in a fluid session with two members of his animal care staff in a behind-the-scenes holding area.

Shombay is reliant on these fluids to maintain critical life functions, so it was important to find a way to easily administer these fluids on a frequent basis. Animal care staff knew that training would be the best way to teach Shombay to participate in his own healthcare in the least stressful way. He is now trained to line up against fencing in the lion habitat or the lion behind-the-scenes holding area. He participates in training with one of his Zoo Keepers while also voluntarily accepting fluid injections under the skin near his hips. Shombay is free to choose to not participate or to leave these sessions at any time. It is the responsibility of his animal care staff to ensure that they always make the experience so positive that he wants to participate!

This treatment plan has been working successfully since his diagnosis. While his condition can never be fully cured, Shombay is currently still able to enjoy a high quality of life thanks to the commitment and care of our Zoo’s animal care professionals.