QUESTION What is Project Lion?
ANSWER Project Lion is a project sponsored by Fixodent, a denture adhesives brand that gave 9-year old Aslan, a rare white lion, his bite back by performing extensive dental surgery. In addition to sponsoring the surgery, Fixodent filmed Aslan’s entire journey from his pre-operation state of isolation and depression to regaining his bite following surgery.
QUESTION Who is paying for the surgery?
ANSWER P&G were pleased to sponsor the procedure that gave Aslan his bite back.
QUESTION Why is P&G paying for a lion to have its teeth repaired?
ANSWER P&G make Fixodent, the best-selling denture adhesive cream in Europe and the United States. We understand the emotional and physical impact of losing teeth – and those impacts are as real for a lion as they are for a human. When we heard about Aslan we knew we had to help him get his bite back.
QUESTION Why did you pick a lion for this project? Why not another animal?
ANSWER We chose to sponsor the surgery for a lion for two reasons: unlike some other animals, lions rely heavily on their teeth for hunting and protection. Secondly, lions are very social animals and their interactions are impacted when one lion in the pride suffers damage to his teeth. Giving Aslan his bite back had a huge impact on his life.
QUESTION Have you made a donation to the Kevin Richardson Wildlife Sanctuary?
ANSWER We hope this video promotes the wonderful work Kevin does to a global audience. We were pleased to lend our support – and our global reach – to his efforts.
QUESTION Who is performing Aslan’s surgery?
ANSWER Dr. Gerhard Steenkamp, a veterinary surgeon with 20 years’ experience, performed Aslan’s surgery.
Gerhard qualified as a veterinarian from Onderstepoort in 1994. He then pursued his special interest in dentistry and maxillofacial surgery in the UK, where he attended the inaugural course in Veterinary Dentistry at the European School for Advanced Veterinary Studies. Dr. Steenkamp has authored and co-authored in excess of 20 peer reviewed publications and have presented papers on his areas of interest at more than 30 International conferences over the last 15 years.
QUESTION What is Dr. Steenkamp’s relevant experience?
ANSWER Dr. Steenkamp has performed over sixty root canal treatments and extractions on lions and tigers. When other carnivores - like leopards, mountain lions, bears, cheetahs, hyaenas – are taken into consideration, Dr. Steenkamp has performed in excess of 300 similar procedures.
QUESTION Who is the anesthesiologist for Aslan’s surgery?
ANSWER Adrian Tordiffe, a veterenarian and authority on animal anesthesia, was the anathesiologist for the surgery. Dr. Tordiffe graduated with a veterinary degree from the University of Pretoria in 1997, before completing a Masters degree in African Mammalogy at the Mammal Research Institute of the University of Pretoria. Dr. Tordiffe has assisted with anasthesia on a variety of mammals, both large and small.
QUESTION How common is this procedure for (lion/animals)?
ANSWER While tooth fractures are common in lions and other big cats, the treatment of those fractures is still relatively new. Dr. Steenkamp will typically perform 10-20 of these procedures a year.
QUESTION When was the procedure performed?
ANSWER Dr. Steenkamp and Dr. Tordiffe performed the procedure on December 12, 2014, at the Kevin Richardson Wildlife Sanctuary.
QUESTION What drug was used to sedate Aslan? Is this drug commonly used on big cats?
ANSWER Dr. Tordiffe used a combination of 2 drugs: Zoletil and Medetomidine. He has performed this kind of anaesthesia on over 600 big cats.
QUESTION What was Aslan’s recovery time?
ANSWER Aslan was awake and able to walk and drink within 2 hours of the surgery. Aslan ate a soft diet for 3 days following the procedure, while the wound took approximately two weeks to completely heal.
QUESTION How long did it take before Aslan was able to eat "normal" food?
ANSWER It took Aslan approximately two weeks to return to a “normal” lion diet.
QUESTION What is the name of Aslan’s sanctuary?
ANSWER Aslan lives in the Kevin Richardson Wildlife Sanctuary, whose mission is to provide a self-sustaining African carnivore sanctuary for the purposes of wild species preservation through education, awareness and funding.
QUESTION Where is the Kevin Richardson Wildlife Sanctuary located?
ANSWER The sanctuary is located approximately a half hour north and east of Pretoria, South Africa. The sanctuary is part of the Dinokeng Game Reserve.
QUESTION How many animals/lions do they look after at the Sanctuary?
ANSWER The sanctuary is home to hundreds of animals, including lions, tigers, cheetahs, and hyenas, among others.
QUESTION Are lions bred at the sanctuary?
ANSWER No, absolutely not. In fact, Kevin Richardson is actively campaigning against the mass breeding of cubs for petting for the commercial tourism and volunteering industry, cubs that all too often end up being hunted in the practice of ‘canned’ lion hunting.
QUESTION How long do lions live?
ANSWER The typical lion will live approximately 10-14 years in the wild. A lion living on a sanctuary can live for up to 20 years.
It is unlikely a male lion will live beyond ten years in the wild, owing to fighting with rival males.
QUESTION What do they eat (in wild/in sanctuary)?
ANSWER Lions are carnivores that prey on a number of different types of herbivores, including wildebeest, warthogs, zebras and other ungulates.
The lions in the sanctuary are fed a selection of meats, primarily horse.
QUESTION How long would a lion live (in wild/in sanctuary) if they had no teeth?
ANSWER A lion that did not have its teeth would not survive in the wild. Lack of teeth is a virtual death sentence.
A lion without teeth is capable of living in a sanctuary until the end of its natural life (approximately 20 years).
QUESTION How did Aslan lose his teeth?
ANSWER Aslan lost one of his teeth chewing on an animal bone and the other by biting on a steel bar.
QUESTION Is losing teeth a common occurrence for a lion?
ANSWER Lion are very hard on their teeth. It is common for their teeth to wear down or break, leading to a dire outcome in the wild.
QUESTION How do lions usually care for their teeth?
ANSWER A lion doesn’t care for its teeth in the way that humans do. In fact, they aren’t able to “care” for their teeth at all. Once their teeth wear down, a lion is in very real danger of dying.
QUESTION What does Aslan eat now in the sanctuary?
ANSWER Aslan’s diet consists mostly of horse meat.
QUESTION What’s Aslan’s mood (is he sad without teeth/ no change)?
ANSWER The sanctuary staff who look after Aslan say that he had become more grumpy and moody after damaging his two canine teeth.
Since the surgery, Aslan’s demeanour has improved. He is eating well, is much less protective over his food, and is socialising with the rest of his pride.
QUESTION Does Aslan have a mate/lioness?
ANSWER Aslan “lives” with three other male lions in the sanctuary, but does not have a mate.
QUESTION Does Aslan have any cubs in the sanctuary?
ANSWER Aslan does not have any cubs at the sanctuary, as the sanctuary observes a strict no breeding policy.