Lioness Grows Beard, Zookeepers Puzzled By 'Exceptionally Rare' Mane

Apart from the extra hair, there has been no change in Bridget's health, says the zoo

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Lioness Grows Beard, Zookeepers Puzzled By 'Exceptionally Rare' Mane

Bridget is an 18-year-old African Lioness at Oklahoma Zoo and Botanical Garden

A lioness in a US zoo has left caretakers and veterinarians shocked by sprouting a "rare but not unheard of" mini-mane.

18-year-old African lioness Bridget, a resident of Oklahoma Zoo and Botanical Garden, has developed a sudden growth of what looks like a beard.

It was in late 2017 caretakers at the Oklahoma Zoo and Botanical Garden noticed that Bridget had started to grow extra hair around her neck and head, ABC News quotes a veterinarian at the zoo.

Caretakers believe Bridget's growth spurt occurred between March and December 2017, says a blog post by the zoo titled "Curious Case of Bridget's Mane".

Experts currently don't know the reason behind the unexpected hair-growth but don't overrule a genetic condition or benign tumour on her adrenal or pituitary gland that regulate hormones like testosterone.

Veterinary staff at the zoo managed to take a blood sample of Bridget without putting her under anesthesia. Bridget's blood samples will be compared to her sister Tia who was born from the same litter, reports ABC News. The results of the tests are still awaited.

Apart from the extra hair, there has been no change in Bridget's health, says the blog post.

In a similar case from 2011, a female lion in South Africa developed a mane making her appear quite lion-like. The sudden beard was a result of an issue in her ovaries which were producing excess testosterone.

In male lions, manes develop at about one-year-old due to increased production of the hormone testosterone. In females, a mane is rarely seen.
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