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Anime fandom loses one to drugs

posted on 1998-11-25 00:00 EST
Almost loses another to a lion

The (usually) close-knit anime fandom community is mourning the passing of Rhyna "Skittles" Gabbert, 16, of a heroin overdose on Friday, November 13. The death is being considered accidental, and since she was a regular security and gofer staffer at Project A-kon for the past few years, the staff will be holding a charity auction in her honor at this year's convention.

"Skittles... was fearless, perky, and a real good kid," wrote A-kon staffer Meri Hazlewood in a public update. "Very few people knew she had a problem. Some of her closer friends knew, but knew that she had tried to get clean, and has succeeded for a time. All it took was one stray from that path to kill her."

In an unrelated event, Lance Pope, owner and creator of "Haunted Verdun Manor" and "Thrillvania" as well as makeup demo person at A-kon 9, was severely mauled by a female lion last week.

A-kon contact Mel. White reported that "he was... awake and coherent, [but] looks like he'd been in a car wreck, with some big bruises, and some scrapes on his face. [The lion] had bitten his right thigh and that required surgery and an arterial graft and skin graft to fix."

The female lion that did this to him was reportedly a newly aquired hand-raised adult who had come into heat. Pope had worked with her before enough to feel comfortable around her, but was attacked several times when he fed her after separating her from her mate, who later came to his rescue.

According to Hazlewood, "He has over 40 puncture wounds across his back, rear and legs, a good size scalp tear, right arm torn with about a 4 in. gash, numerous smaller wounds on the side of jaw, chest, other arm, etc. The worst damage was on the right side. The right artery from knee to groin was collapsed and torn, and was grafted back together from a piece taken from the left leg artery (so both legs are now cut up), and he will most likely need some skin grafting to close large wounds in the back of the leg that were too far apart to sew back together."

Female lions are the natural predators of a pack, and are therefore more agressive than the three males that Pope had owned previously. This particular lioness had been fed live prey, and is thought to have mistaken him for this prey.

Pope does not have medical insurance, and therefore donations are being accepted to help pay his medical bills (which are expected to be enormous). Donations should be sent to:

Wolf Studios, Inc.
2330 County Road 138
Terrell, Texas 75161

Smaller donations will be used to reward the male lion that saved Pope with a steak dinner upon his return. Additional fund-raising activities are planned for the next A-kon.

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