Watch: Lion Catches Nap as He Undergoes CAT Scan

A lion at a zoo in England looked as if he was sneaking a little cat nap as he underwent a CAT scan for an earache.

London Zoo's 12-year-old endangered Asiatic lion, named Bhanu, was suffering recurrent ear infections in his left ear, so the team of vets at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) brought the computerized axial tomography (CAT) scanner to the zoo to investigate and take X-rays.

Bhanu had previously undergone ear drops, regular ear examinations and even a thorough cleaning under anesthestic but all to no avail.

Bhanu gets CAT scan at London Zoo
London Zoo's 12-year-old endangered Asiatic lion, named Bhanu, was suffering recurrent ear infections in his left ear, so the team of vets at the Zoological Society of London brought the computerized axial tomography (CAT) scanner to the zoo to investigate and take X-rays. Steve Chatterley, SWNS/Zenger

"We wanted to devise the best long-term treatment plan for Bhanu, but we first had to find out what was causing the problem and urgently rule out any worst-case scenarios, such as a tumor or a deep-seated infection, which would show up on a CAT scan immediately," said Taina Strike, ZSL London Zoo senior veterinary officer.

"Bhanu is an important member of the European-wide breeding program for Endangered Asiatic lions and deserves the very best care, so we arranged the full VIP treatment; bringing a CAT scanner to a big cat for the first time, so we could see deeper into his ear without him needing to travel."

It took the six-strong team to gently lift the nearly 400-pound big cat into the right position for the scanner after the beast was anesthetized in his den and transported on a flatbed truck.

A scan specialist in Australia with experience in working with big cats was also present via video link to live assess the results.

Bhanu gets CAT scan at London Zoo
London Zoo's 12-year-old endangered Asiatic lion, named Bhanu, was suffering recurrent ear infections in his left ear, so the team of vets at the Zoological Society of London brought the computerized axial tomography (CAT) scanner to the zoo to investigate and take X-rays. Steve Chatterley, SWNS/Zenger

"We were grateful to have diagnostic imaging specialist David Reese from VetCT on hand to analyze the scans in real-time, who quickly informed us there was nothing serious to worry about – but that Bhanu had a very narrow left ear canal, which was more prone to blockages and infections," Strike said.

"Just like your pet cat at home, big cats can naturally get ear infections too, which are normally treated with ear drops.

"ZSL's zookeepers have worked closely with Bhanu to make sure he is completely at ease having the drops, but the naturally long length of a lion's ear canal, combined with Bhanu's being narrower than usual, meant that the treatment wasn't reaching far enough to be effective.

"Now that we understand the issue, we can work to get Bhanu back to tip-top health."

Vets took the opportunity to give Bhanu's ear a thorough cleaning and treatment before taking the big cat back to his Land of the Lions home to wake up.

Bhanu gets CAT scan at London Zoo
Vets at the London Zoo took the opportunity to give Bhanu’s ear a thorough cleaning and treatment before taking the big cat back to his Land of the Lions home to wake up. Steve Chatterley, SWNS/Zenger

The team have since formed a long-term treatment plan for his care; instead of ear drops, the important feline will receive regular oral medication to reduce inflammation in his ear canal, anti-fungal medications to manage any infection, and a comprehensive ear clean during his annual health check.

Asiatic lions only occur in the wild in India, although historically its range used to be from the Middle East to India.

The last census in 2020 identified 674 in the wild, a 29 percent increase from 2015.

Expert vets and vet nurses at ZSL London Zoo look after more than 370 species, many of which are critically endangered and threatened in the wild.

Produced in association with SWNS.

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.