In 2008, at a wildlife center in Brazil, a healthy and playful lion cub named Ariel was born. Nowadays, he spends his days in a house in Sao Paulo, unable to move limbs. Ariel suffers from a debilitating autoimmune disease that has rendered him quadriplegic, and requiring of round-the-clock care from his trainers. Although it might seem like a lonely, hopeless life for the paralyzed lion, his story has won the hearts of thousands -- and thanks to their outpouring of support, he's getting the care he needs.
Ariel's trainer, Raquel Ferreira Borges da Silva, tell's G1 Globo that up until June of last year, the young cat was as playful and energetic as a lion should be. Sadly, however, while undergoing enrichment training at the facility he landed awkwardly while practicing his pouncing skills. Following the accident, say Raquel, she began to notice Ariel limping, with pain in her hind legs -- shortly after, he began to lose movement there altogether.
Last December, Ariel underwent surgery for what was thought to be a herniated disc. Mysteriously, following the treatment, Ariel lost the ability to move all four legs.
Since then, Ariel has been confined to a makeshift bed on the floor of Raquel's Sao Paulo home. Over the last seven months, Ariel's keepers have tried a variety of methods to help restore movement to the lion's legs, from acupuncture to physiotherapy, but there has been no dramatic improvement to his condition, the cause of which has not yet been pinpointed. Recently, veteranarians from Israel diagnosed Arial as having an autoimmune disease, though which type is still unclear.
For Raquel, providing Ariel with the care he needs requires time, patience, and especially financial support. According to the trainer, providing Ariel with all the food, medication, and diapers costs nearly $400 a day -- but thanks to an outpouring of donations, the lion continues to be cared for.
Raquel established a web site and Facebook page for people to support Ariel's struggle, and so far over 35,000 have become involved, with many offering financial assistance or just words of encouragement.
Although the extent of Ariel's recovery is uncertain, Raquel remains optimistic that one day the lion will walk again.
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