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Lioness at Oklahoma City Zoo grows a mane, paralyzes her keepers

Bridget the lioness before and after the grow of its moons (Photo Credit Amanda Sorensen).

Bridget, a 18-year-old African lioness at the Oklahoma City Zoo, has stunned her keepers through the cultivation of moons.

In a blog post, zoo officials explained that Bridget has sprouted a “mini-moons.” Science Alert reports that the mane of the lion grew between March and November 2017.

Male lions develop manes when they are about a year old, as a result of the increase in the production of testosterone. The lionesses growing mane, however, is extremely rare.

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Experts are now trying to figure out how Bridget grew her mane. Staff at the Oklahoma City Zoo recently obtained a blood sample from the lioness’ tale, which is analysed.

“Apart from a natural genetic component, another possible condition causing the mane growth can be a benign tumor on her adrenal gland or pituitary gland when this regulating hormones, such as testosterone,” the zoo explained in the post.

The veterinary staff will continue to follow Bridget, but to say that the unusual condition is not likely to impact on the animal and the quality of life. Other than the moons, no change is seen in Bridget’s overall health.

Although the lions with manes are rare, they are not unheard of. In 2011, Emma, a 13-year-old lioness at the National Zoo in South Africa grew a mane, which is comparable with the length of that of a young lion. Blood test showed that Emma had elevated levels of testosterone, so vets her ovaries removed, which they believed was the cause of the problem.

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Scientists were surprised to find that the ovaries contained cells that are normally only seen in the testes of male lions. After her ovaries were removed, Emma gradually lost its mane.

Five wild lionesses with manes were also spotted in Botswana in 2014. In addition to their moons, the animals were again typical behavior of male lions — a lioness was an attempt to mount other females, according to the New Scientist.

“Because these lions came from the same pride and developed the moons at a young age, researchers believe that a genetic component in this population resulted in this characteristic,” explained the Oklahoma City Zoo in his post.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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