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Test reveals why female lion in Oklahoma zoo sprouted a mane

/ 06:31 PM March 22, 2018

These photos provided by the Oklahoma City Zoo taken, March 25, 2017, left, and Nov. 23, 2017, right, show Bridget, a lioness that has grown a mane. The zoo says a blood sample has detected the reason why one of its African lionesses has grown a mane. Image: Amanda Sorenson/Oklahoma City Zoo/AP

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Lab results have revealed the answer to a mystery at an Oklahoma zoo: Just what caused a female lion to sprout a mane.

The Oklahoma City Zoo says in its March newsletter that testing at the University of Tennessee found the African lioness named Bridget has an elevated level of androstenedione, a hormone that can contribute to developing male features.

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Veterinarians compared Bridget’s blood to samples from her sister, who has no mane. Bridget’s blood also contained a higher level of cortisol, which regulates metabolism and the immune system.

The zoo says the results likely mean the 18-year-old lioness has a benign tumor that’s producing the hormones, but that her health is excellent.

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The zoo says female lions with manes are not unheard of, but they are rare. AB

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