A gaunt-looking lioness tries to muster up enough strength to lap up water as a caretaker sadly assesses her emaciated figure. When rescuers found the feline, she was at death’s door. But sometimes, as her caretakers discovered, miracles can come from unexpected places.
In 2009 the U.S. Department of Agriculture succeeded in saving a lioness, Sheila, who had been badly treated at an entertainment center in Texas. The establishment was found to be exploiting such animals at private events, and Sheila had been neglected almost to the point of death.
Indeed, the USDA advised the In-Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue and Educational Center in Wylie, Texas which houses abandoned, abused or unwelcome wild cats that saving her could be a long shot. In fact, they said a merciful death was, sadly, her best option.
This was because Sheila, who was not much older than a year when rescued, could scarcely eat, drink or walk. “She had very little muscle coordination, and thus, when she walked, her legs would slip out from under her,” an In-Sync statement said of her terrible condition.
Unfortunately, Sheila’s case was so bad that no sooner had she gotten to the center than the keepers assumed she was on her way out. The weary lioness was throwing up and pretty much immobile. But, for the time being, her guardians persevered.