move over panda.


Bear Brain Surgery

*image from National Geographic – article linked below

This is old news, having happened back in April, but since it’s still ‘news’ to me I wanted to share!

This past spring an Asian Black Bear by the name of Champa became the first bear to  undergo brain surgery (in the history of EVER!). Champa, a three year old bear living at a sanctuary operated by the Australian non-profit called Free The Bears, suffered hydrocephalus. As the name of the disease suggests (literally “water in the brain”), individuals with hydrocephalus have excess fluid in their brains. It’s a painful condition that has been described as similar to a chronic, extremely intense migraine.

Usually an animal suffering from this condition would be put down, however the sanctuary, operated in the largely Buddhist country of Laos, decided that this was not an option in consideration of the local values and animal protection laws. Expert veterinary surgeon Romain Pizzi was flown in to carry out the procedure.

From National Geographic:

“To prepare for the operation, Pizzi consulted with pediatric surgeons and studied Asiatic black bear skulls, a replica of a bear brain, and the brains of a hydrocephalic otter and fox. He packed equipment to carry from his home in Edinburgh to Laos, knowing that he would be operating under hot, humid conditions and with unreliable electricity. Since there was no MRI machine at the sanctuary (or anywhere in Laos), he would not be able to confirm the diagnosis of hydrocephalus until surgery began.”

The procedure went smoothly and Champa reported to be a much more social and active bear post-surgery.

Read the full  article, from National Geographic, here


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