years ago this April, Jill Robinson first walked onto a bear bile farm. On that day in April 1993, Jill could have walked away, but she chose to act and do what she could. Today, you also have a choice. If everyone reading this donated just US$20, it would pay for the care of over 150 bears at our China sanctuary for a full year. Please help us celebrate 20 years of progress. Donate US$20 today (or whatever you can afford).
Snoopy arrived at the rescue centre in 2003, blind and terribly frightened.
Thursday morning saw our lovely blind Snoopy, sleeping peacefully on the operating table, as visiting UK ophthalmologist Dr Claudia Hartley began a difficulty surgery in the hopes of restoring her sight. Claudia had visited the Moon Bear Rescue Centre a few months previously to assess Snoopy and some of the other bears with visual impairments, and determined that Snoopy had a fighting chance to regain her eyesight.
With the assistance of Dr David Donaldson, Claudia performed the delicate operation over four hours at the rescue centre, starting at 8.30am. Although it will be a couple of days before the results of the surgery can be assessed, we are all hopeful that the procedure will prove at least partly successful. Snoopy’s eye problems are the result of years of incarceration and mistreatment on a bear bile farm, as Jill explains. “Snoopy’s years of poor care and nutrition on the farm could have been a contributing factor in the development of bilateral cataracts in both her eyes. The cataracts completely obscured her vision”.
It is believed to be the first time this type of cataract surgery and synthetic lens transplant has been attempted on a moon bear and Claudia said that it was the most difficult cataract surgery she’d ever performed. “The cataracts were extremely hard because they had been present for so long. They were as hard as boiled sweets and were overwhelming the ultrasonic machine as it wasn’t able to break the cataract into fragments and suck them out. So we had to remove the whole lens capsule, which contains the cataract, from the left eye; this is a different procedure altogether.”
Removal of the lens does not necessarily mean that Snoopy won’t be able to see again in the left eye. In the right, she has a better chance of good vision, as the ophthalmologists were able to transplant a synthetic lens.
“I don’t think there will be a dry eye in the house if Snoopy wakes up from surgery and realises that she can see”, said Jill yesterday. ”I can't wait – I’m only hoping that she can deal with the surprise and that we don’t see a negative reaction.” The next few days will be difficult to get through, with the anticipation of the outcome weighing on everyone’s mind. We are very hopeful though, that by next week, we can confirm a new lease on life for Snoopy. In the meantime, she is being completely spoiled and getting lots of interaction during her recovery period, in the hope that this helps her deal better with the potential arrival of her sight.
Claudia and David, both veterinarians with the UK charitable organisation, the Animal Health Trust, are donating their time and skills voluntarily, and we cannot thank them enough for their help. Animals Asia’s Senior Vet Heather, who assisted in the surgery, said she was thrilled by the success of Snoopy’s operation. “Not only does this mean (all going well) that Snoopy’s quality of life will be greatly improved, it also gives us hope that some of our other bears will be able to see again.”
Claudia and David will be performing surgeries on six more bears over the coming week.