Claudia the bear received a first-of-its-kind surgery at Animals Asia sanctuary in China this month and she could be walking again in no time.
Claudia became lame after being rescued by the organization. A CT scan revealed she suffered from incomplete ossification of the humeral condyles, a rare condition that until now had never been reported in any bear species, and that causes the bones to stay immature, which resulted in Claudia’s left elbow to fracture due to her weight.
Orthopedic surgeon Dr Alane Cahalane flew to Chengdu to perform the operation that will hopefully allow Claudia to walk again. She placed three screws on the fractured elbow and will return in a few weeks to operate on the other one.
“It is difficult to comprehend exactly what this surgery means. As a world first in bears, this surgery represents a milestone in veterinary wildlife medicine. But more than this, Claudia’s surgery truly highlights the value we all place upon her life,” said Animals Asia’s resident veterinarian Emily Drayton.
“As Animals Asia fights to abolish an industry that destroys thousands of lives, the importance of one life cannot be underestimated. If there is one thing we can all take from this surgery, it is the importance of each bear, the value of their life and the significance of their individual story.”
“For now Claudia is comfortable. Incredibly, just one day after her groundbreaking surgery she was already placing weight on her left elbow and showing no signs of pain. It may be several weeks before we can begin the next phase of surgery so we’ll be doing our best to make sure that Claudia remains comfortable and stimulated during that time.”
Animals Asia founder and CEO, Jill Robinson MBE said: “It goes without saying that we were incredibly fortunate and grateful to have such an accomplished advocate for veterinary medicine at CBRC. Armed with the best in veterinary orthopedic equipment, years of specialist experience, and her seasoned vet nurse, Ka Po Fu, Dr Alane was well prepared to attempt a surgery that, to our knowledge, had never been performed on a bear before.
“Thanks to Dr Alane’s expertise, Claudia can look forward to a future roaming our sanctuary enclosures with her friends. She will be able to forage and explore, play, rest and bask in all the best things life at the sanctuary has to offer.”
Animals Asia began rescuing moon bears from the cruel bear bile industry in 1994 in both China and Vietnam. They have built 2 sanctuaries and rescued over 400 bears since.
According to the organisation, over 10,00 bears are still being forced to live in crash cages on bear farms, regularly tortured during the extraction of their bile.