The Italian Almanac

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Italian News - December 3

Vets at Rome zoo, anxious to relieve an aging lion's arthritis, have injected tiny particles of gold into its aching muscles. Bellamy, a 13-year-old male who has had increasing difficulty walking recently, was operated on by an international team of specialists led by the zoo's chief vet, Klaus Friedrich.

The injection of particles of gold 'salts' into the body has sometimes been used to treat arthritis in humans. The gold bonds with certain compounds found in tissue and reduces the pain, experts say. Friedrich said the injections had started to take effect and Bellamy was now beginning to walk again. He said the full effect of the treatment would only be apparent in a few days, when the animal would be moving normally.

In the meantime, technicians at the Roman 'Bioparco' have installed better heating in the lion's enclosure so that he will be comfortable as he recovers full mobility. The average lifespan of a lion in the wild is 15 or 16 years, although they often live well beyond that age in captivity.