Zoo keepers knock out 15-year-old lioness to give a full health check

How you feline? Julie the 15-year-old lioness is knocked out and given full ‘MOT’ health check at Yorkshire Wildlife Park

  • Julie, one of six lions at Yorkshire Wildlife Park, was put under anaesthetic after having some tummy trouble
  • But staff said they used opportunity of her being unconscious for an hour to run every test going on lioness 
  • Kim Wilkins, head of carnivores, said 15-year-old Julie appears in good health, despite her advancing years
  • After waking, she said she was ‘a bit groggy – like after a night out on the town – but she’s recovered brilliantly’ 

A 15-year-old lioness has been given a clean bill of health after she was knocked out by zoo keepers for a full ‘MOT’ check at a wildlife park. 

Julie – one of the six lions at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Doncaster – was put under as workers investigated some tummy trouble the big cat had been having.

But staff said they used the opportunity of her being unconscious for an hour to run every test going on the much-loved animal.

Kim Wilkins, head of carnivores, said Julie had been presenting with stomach trouble and a lack of appetite so they decided to do a full check.

Julie – one of the six lions at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Doncaster – was put under anaesthetic (pictured above) as zoo keepers investigated some tummy trouble the big cat had been having

The much-loved animal was given an ultrasound to check on her gastrointestinal tracts, blood tests to check on her liver and kidney function and X-Rays to check her joints

Veterinary Surgeon Michael Rothwell checks an ultrasound from Julie the lioness as she is given a full health check at Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Doncaster, South Yorkshire 

She said: ‘This is something we wanted to investigate further, to check there was nothing sinister going on, and it gave us the opportunity to do a full health check on her.’

Ms Wilkins said Julie was given an ultrasound to check on her gastrointestinal tracts, bloods test to check on her liver and kidney function and a check of her joints.

‘It’s an opportunity to give her a full MOT, really,’ she said.

She said the good news is that Julie appears to be in good health, despite her advancing years. Lions in captivity usually live to their early 20s.

Ms Wilkins said she was a very good cat – accepting the injection to put her under without staff having to resort to a dart gun.

After waking, she said she was ‘a bit groggy – like after a night out on the town – but she’s recovered brilliantly’. 

Veterinary Surgeon Mr Rothwell pulls out the tongue of Julie, aged 15, before inserting a tube to aid breathing, as the lioness is given a full health check at Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Doncaster

Kim Wilkins, head of carnivores, said the good news is that Julie appears to be in good health, despite her advancing years. Lions in captivity usually live to their early 20s

Zoo keepers and a veterinary surgeon are seen giving Julie a full health check at the wildlife park. Ms Wilkins said she was a very good cat – accepting the injection to put her under without staff having to resort to a dart gun

Julie lives with her male friend Ares at the South Yorkshire park.

Ms Wilkins added: ‘He didn’t seem fussed about not having his girlfriend with him. 

‘I think he was enjoying the peace and quiet.’

The lions have been in Doncaster since 2010 when 13 were brought over from a dilapidated zoo in Romania. Ares and Julie are still living in the seven-acre Lion Country along with Simba, Maria, Carla and Crystal.


A man holding a dart gun is seen watching over Julie as she is given a full health check at the wildlife park (pictured left) and an X-ray of the left elbow of Julie the lioness (right)

Blood taken form Julie the lioness as she is given an ‘MOT’ at Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Doncaster. The lions have been in Doncaster since 2010 when 13 were brought over from a dilapidated zoo in Romania

Veterinary Surgeon Mr Rothwell gives an ultrasound to Julie at Yorkshire Wildlife Park. Julie and her male friend Ares are still living in the seven-acre Lion Country along with Simba, Maria, Carla and Crystal

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