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Enormous-tongued bear saved by kindness, here's how


Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Tuesday, October 24, 2017, 3:34 PM - An Asian black bear is recovering after a team of vets were able to save him from a painful disfigurement.

The bear - named Nyan htoo, which means 'bright' - was rescued in Myanmar as a cub with his brother. The duo had been slated for illegal sale in China before monks at a monastery rescued them.

Soon after, Nyan htoo's tongue began to swell from an unknown disease. He underwent his first operation in 2016, but the swelling recurred and worsened.

By 2017 his tongue was dragging on the floor, causing painful injuries. In spite of his illness, caretakers say he remained playful and continued to wrestle with his brother.

Veterinary surgeon Heather Bacon of the University of Edinburgh in the UK worked with Caroline Nelson of the Animals Asia Bear Rescue Centre in Vietnam and Romain Pizzi of Wildlife Surgery International to remove three kilograms of tissue from Nyan htoo's tongue in a four-hour procedure.

"Thanks to the enthusiasm and compassion of all involved in this uniquely collaborative project, we have been able to make a tangible improvement in the quality of Nyan htoo’s life, and hope to continue our work in Myanmar to promote improvements in animal welfare and veterinary training," Bacon said in a statement.

After examination, the team believes Nyan htoo was infected with a mosquito-transmitted infection called elephantiasis, which causes abnormal swelling and is normally seen in people.

"This was a really unusual medical condition – never before seen in any species of bear – but we weren't about to give up on Nyan htoo. Now he will be able to eat much more comfortably, sleep in more natural positions and move more freely for the rest of his life," Nelson added.

The young bear is said to be recovering well.

Source: University of Edinburgh

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