In late January, Aramis, a brilliant African lion at In-Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue in Wylie, stopped eating. Even when Vicky Keahey, one of his caretakers, gave him special food he typically likes, he would soon get sick and vomit. For seven days, the lion didn't eat at all.
"He was probably seven when we first got him in July of 2011," Keahey said, "and we know that prior to then he wasn't in a great environment and probably wasn't fed properly."
Without knowing the full history of the lion, it's hard to pinpoint exactly what is wrong. And not only was the lack of nutrition a problem, but it also meant they weren't able to give Aramis medicine to help him get well.
But, like many attentive and creative caretakers, the folks at In-Sync figured out that Aramis could keep down elk meat. Then they had a new problem -- their usual source for the protein was out. So, in a desperate move to find another source of elk, In-Sync posted a message to their Facebook page (which has more than 5,000 likes) along with a picture of Aramis.
"After we put it on Facebook, someone contacted Jason Boso [the founder of Twisted Root]," Keahey said, "and I think he didn't believed it at first, so he called us. And I confirmed that we did really need it."
In just a crazy coincidence Boso had received 50 pounds of elk meat that very day.
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"Jason asked me 'Can I bring it right now?' and I said, 'Heck yeah!'" Keahey said.
YO Steakhouse on Ross Avenue also heard about the animal's plight and they too donated elk meat to the rescue center.
That was all a week ago, and now Aramis is doing much better. Keahey estimates they have enough elk to get through the end of February and are starting to slowly mix in other food with the elk as he's able to keep his food down. After he gets better and, subsequently calmer, they'll be able to do more testing to figure out exactly what is wrong with Aramis.
And, no, Keahey, has never had an elk burger at Twisted Root. But, she's going on Thursday and she and Boso will surely talk shop -- elk and lions.