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).
UK-based Animal Health Trust (AHT) recently visited our rescue centre at Tam Dao, Vietnam to assess a number of bears with eye problems. Among the lucky recipients of their eye specialists’ care was Olive, a small sun bear cub who arrived at the rescue centre with a litany of problems.
In early August, Olive was transferred from Soc Son Wildlife Rescue Centre near Hanoi where she was being looked after, because of several on-going health issues that concerned the staff there.
On arrival, she showed lameness in her left forelimb, had an infected wound on the left side of face, and a problem with her left eye. Clearly she had been mistreated before being rescued by the Quang Ninh Forestry Protection Department (FPD) and brought to Soc Son, and the left side of her little body must have born the brunt of it.
While responding well to treatments since her arrival at the rescue centre, her left eye had remained a problem, So, with ophthalmology specialists Claudia and David and AHT vet nurse Kerry on-site, the vet team jumped at the chance to have Olive examined.
They confirmed that Olive had a cataract in her left eye, and that it would already be making it difficult for her to see. They could also tell that it was progressing and would likely get more serious over time, and so the decision was made to surgically remove it. This is a very delicate operation and we were extremely lucky to have such highly qualified veterinary ophthalmologists here to perform the surgery on our precious little bear.
The surgery was successful, and Olive is recovering well. Cataracts in such a young bear are likely due to poor nutrition or an injury when she was very young, neither of which would be very surprising considering Olive was probably violently removed from her mother when she was very small.
The vet team also took the opportunity to give Olive a closer examination while she was under anaesthetic. She was found to have injuries to shoulder and elbow joints of her left foreleg. Her canine teeth had been cut to gum level which must have been done by her captors, and also likely caused the infection on her muzzle that she arrived with.
Little Olive peers out of her big recovery cage, wide awake post-op.
Olive is recovering nicely from her surgery and health-check in a roomy transport cage and next week, she will be moved into a “proper” bear den in River House, so that she can begin to get to know the two little moon bear cubs already in residence, Xin Xin and Chien Thang.
Initially the meetings will be through the bars of their adjoining dens, and depending on how that goes, hopefully the step-by-step integration will take place in the following weeks.
Olive can be a little nervous, not surprising considering her start in life, so everything will be monitored very carefully by the vet team and bear management team. The end goal is to provide friendship, comfort and playmates for a very little bear.
Our sincere thanks goes once again to the Animal Health Trust who have done so much for our bears in China and Vietnam. Their recent visits to the rescue centres saw a record number of bears receive eye checks and a phenomenal amount of work done by these brilliant specialists. Thank you Claudia, Kerry and David.