Brotherly love: Franklin Park Zoo lion Dinari to have medical procedure to help his brother, Kamaia

BOSTON — You can say it’s an example of one brother helping another.

Dinari, a 14-year-old male lion at Franklin Park Zoo, will have a medical procedure on Thursday with the hope that it will help his brother, Kamaia, who has serious health issues, zoo officials said.

The zoo’s veterinary team will draw blood from Dinari to determine if it is a match with Kamaia, who is severely anemic, so that they can perform a blood transfusion, zoo officials said.

“While there is always a risk whenever anesthesia is administered, Dinari is in good health and the team believes his risk is minimal for this short procedure, which could give his brother the best chance of survival,” zoo officials said in a statement on Wednesday.

On Friday, the veterinary team plans to perform exploratory surgery on Kamaia, also 14, to try to determine the cause of his ongoing health issues, officials said. If he is a match with his brother Dinari, a blood transfusion will also be performed.

“We remain very concerned about Kamaia and his ongoing serious health issues. These procedures are approached with great thought and consideration, and while there is risk and many unknowns as to what we could find, this is the best course of action to try and treat Kamaia,” said Dr. Chris Bonar, animal health director for Zoo New England.

Last week, Kamaia underwent a medical exam to try to determine the cause of underlying health issues after he showed signs of illness, including decreased appetite and lethargy.

Although Kamaia was successfully treated for severe pneumonia earlier this spring, at the time it appeared that he also had some chronic underlying health issues. Comprehensive diagnostic tests were inconclusive at that time, zoo officials said.

Last week’s exam included collecting blood, urine, spleen and bone marrow samples, as well as X-rays of Kamaia’s chest and abdomen, zoo officials said. The exam reveal that Kamaia’s spleen is greatly enlarged, which may have caused his anemia. However, it’s still unclear whether he has other health issues.

“Dinari and Kamaia were born in the same litter, and are an incredibly close, tightly-bonded pair. These decisions are being carefully considered with both of their best interests in mind,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England president and CEO. “The Animal Care and veterinary teams have been working extraordinarily hard to care for Kamaia, and I would like to commend them for their dedication, care and professionalism during this challenging time.”

Dinari and Kamaia have resided at Franklin Park Zoo since 2015. The zoo said it will provide updates following the procedure on Friday.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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