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Samson and Delilah Reunited after Brain Surgery

Samson the lion, showing some of his old feistiness after his operation. (Image credit: Petnet.)

Samson the lion, recuperating from a first-of-its-kind brain operation, is now back with his sister, Delilah, at the Hai-Kef zoo in Rishon Lezion, Israel.

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"The meeting between Samson and his sister Delilah was joyous and emotional," said the director of the zoo, Bezalel Porath. "Samson now has many visitors. We also received letters from kindergartens and telephone calls from many who inquired about his welfare."

Prior to the operation, the lion was having trouble standing and had a loss of appetite.?? Dr. Merav Shamir from the Veterinary Teaching Hospital of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem took a CT exam of Samson, and diagnosed the problem as pressure on the brain, due to abnormal skull growth in the rear of the head.

This brain affliction is common among lions in captivity.? Veterinarians believe the skull growth is caused by a vitamin A deficiency, so most zoos place vitamin supplements in the animal's food.? Still, despite the precautions, lions do occasionally die from the build-up of pressure on their brains.

For this reason, Dr. Shamir decided to operate on Samson to remove part of the thickened skull tissue.? The surgery, which lasted six hours, appears to have been a success.

"The results as they look today are more than we could have expected," Dr. Shamir said. "Samson is walking around as a fully healthy lion, and our final worry is that the impressive mane which covered his head before the operation will return and cover any traces of our surgical work."

Michael Schirber
Michael Schirber began writing for LiveScience in 2004 when both he and the site were just getting started. He's covered a wide range of topics for LiveScience from the origin of life to the physics of Nascar driving, and he authored a long series of articles about environmental technology. Over the years, he has also written for Science, Physics World, andNew Scientist. More details on his website.