A newborn leopard cub named “Bibi Kali” because of her aggressive nature was entrusted into Daktari Sue’s care. Abandoned by her mother, she had a nasty tear wound across her shoulders. “It was three days before we dared to give anything but superficial treatment to the cub’s shoulder wound. By then she was taking milk from a bottle and was making her presence felt. She seemed to gradually take shape, coming to life with an infant bawl rather than a feline cry, her body – now well nourished – taking on the supple rippling movement of the adult leopard.”
"Stinkie" was Daktari Sue's first wild patient in Kenya (1960s). This newborn rhino had already suffered the heartbreak of losing everything in her world that mattered most: her mother had been brutally killed by poachers who were after the horn which is prized in Asia for medicinal and other purposes. With masses of TLC (tender loving care), Stinkie went on to make a full recovery, all infections healed.
Daktari Sue and Alicat the genet 24 days after the operation. Poor Ali, he had been in a very bad way indeed. A savage attack by an adult male genet had resulted in a shattered lower jaw, torn gums and muscles as well as an injury to one back leg which was paralysed, along with the lower spine.
One mg of the M99 drug could stop a 4-ton rhino within some 10 minutes or even sooner. To show the world that a white rhinoceros can be made safe and still, Daktari Sue was asked if she would mind getting on a rhino’s back for a photograph. Apparently, the rhino was moving slightly giving Sue a sensation of sitting high aboard a huge battleship, heaving in the waves.
Life as a vet in Africa during the 1960s was never dull. Daktari Sue was part of the ground-breaking world of the immobilisation of large animals in the wild. In her first autobiography, “Too Short a Day”, she wrote “To witness the amazing procedure of immobilisation was the experience of a lifetime. Here she is seen examining the syringe puncture on a “sleeping” elephant in a Kenyan national park.
George Adamson’s favourite lion, Boy, had life-threatening injuries inflicted by a buffalo and porcupine; a six-hour operation subsequently took place. Daktari Sue accompanied a deeply asleep Boy in a light aircraft bound for Lake Naivasha. The recovery and convalescence took one whole year.
Daktari Sue and her husband made wild animal surgical history by performing a pioneering operation on Ugas of "Born Free" fame. Sue wrote "Neither Toni nor I had ever removed a lion's eye before, but we supposed that the method would be no different from that practised on a cat or a dog. The deep anaesthetic and moment-by-moment observation would be the most difficult part of the operation. Here in the bush there would be no extra hands, no nurses, no control of wound sterility when the wind raised the dust."
George Adamson assisted throughout the operation that took two hours and helped Daktari Sue remove the stitches: 14 in total. Four months later George sent a final case report. Was it possible that Ugas' one-eyed appearance had made him even more attractive to females? "The loss of the eye does not appear to inhibit Ugas' activities in the very least. Frequently he goes off for 3 or 4 nights at a time. At least twice, if not 3 times, he has mated with wild lionesses. He seems just as alert as ever. Only difference being that he is constantly turning his head to the right to enable his left eye to take in the lost view on the right side. His judgement does not appear to be impaired."
Ugas, the one-eyed lion, thrived for many years in the wilderness, even after George had left Meru Park and moved further north-east. It was easy to spot him among his pride, and you can guess why. Although his empty eye socket was covered with hair, he was quite unmistakable, for he had the darkest mane, the most curious face, and the most ENORMOUS feet!
Joy and George Adamson discussed the condition of an injured young cheetah called Whity who had been diagnosed with radial paralysis (paralysis of the nerve which controls the forward movement of the leg).
The offending leg was put in a plaster bandage by Daktari Sue and Joy nursed Whity lovingly back to full health.
George Adamson was killed 33 years ago in an ambush a few miles from his isolated camp in northern Kenya. He was on his way to pick up visitors at his dirt airstrip when his Land Rover was attacked by gunfire from three Somali bandits.
He wrote of lions "Like people, they can look impressive, beautiful, curious, ugly or plain. The best are adventurous, loyal and brave." George always claimed that lions have a sixth sense; in an uncanny foretelling of his death, the whole pride of lions and lionesses gathered outside the camp the night before he died - as if paying their last respects to the man who had always been their protector.
RIP Father of Lions also known as Baba ya Simba. Your enduring legacy lives on.