Lion with paralyzed legs dies in Brazil

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SAO PAULO — Ariel, a paralyzed male lion whose fight to walk again became the focus of an Internet fundraising campaign and captured wide media attention in Brazil, died Wednesday, his owner said.

The Facebook page created by Borges was “liked” by more than 62,500 people. The lion’s death made headlines on Brazil’s biggest news portals and was a top worldwide trending item on Twitter.

Veterinarian Livia Pereira who cared for Ariel recently had said that for unknown reasons, the lion’s white blood cells attacked healthy cells because of a degenerative disease affecting the medulla, a portion of the brain stem involved in motor functions.

Pereira said Ariel’s symptoms were similar to those of multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and Guillain-Barre syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that can cause paralysis.

Printed on Thursday, July 28, 2011 as: Paralyzed lion in Brazil dies, resulting in top internet news