A 6-yr-old, captive-born male lion (Panthera leo) with a 3-day history of acute and nonprogressive spastic paraplegia of the hind limbs and flaccid paraplegia of the left forelimb, was submitted for postmortem examination. Before and after the onset of the neurologic signs, neither hematologic nor other significant clinical abnormalities were observed. The only remarkable gross lesion was restricted to the C6–C7 segments of the spinal cord, where a focal and asymmetric enlargement of the cord displaced the nerve roots. On the cut surface, a poorly demarcated dark red hemorrhagic lesion involved the lateroventral funiculi and the ventral horn of the gray matter, exclusively on the left half of the cord. Extensive necrosis, hemorrhages, degeneration of the neuroparenchyma, and several fibrocartilaginous emboli occluding the lumina of intraparenchymal arteries were present within histologic sections of spinal cord. Emboli also were detected within the meningeal vessels. This is the first report of fibrocartilaginous embolic myelopathy occurring in a lion.
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