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RIP little "Plug"

I’m so sorry to bring you the news that another of our latest batch of rescued bears has died – one more bear that just couldn’t rise above the torture and succumbed. Since he arrived, Plug has featured in almost every vet report as being a worrisome bear and the team has been battling so hard to bring him through. We always felt that even though the remaining bears of the original 28 were getting better, they were by no means out of the woods yet.

Remember that we suspected we received the very worst bears from all the surrounding farms even though we were told that it was just one farm closing down. This was probably true; the farmer has “swapped” the bears deemed healthier on his farm with those that were sick on other farms. The farmers would have known they had dying, or at least “substandard” bears on their farms and happily exchanged them for healthier bears, thus seeing us receiving a whole group of sick bears, of which Plug was one.

The resulting evidence of such sickness is increasingly weighing up in our favour – we’re working hard with local pathologists towards proving to the Government that our fears were right.

My heart goes out to our Senior Vet, Heather, and the rest of the team, who were making such progress with this angry little bear. Here’s a message from Heather, who has been with Plug since Day 1:

Sadly today (Wednesday), we euthanised another of our new bears, S229 “Plug”, named after the Beano character of the same name because of his enormous ears, which looked extra-big atop his thin face when he arrived. Plug concerned us on arrival due to his emaciated condition and the low rumbling moan that he made when any human approached.

He was the first bear to undergo removal of his gall bladder as we were so concerned about his thin condition, and during the surgery we checked him thoroughly for other problems, but found nothing to account for his emaciated condition. Physically, Plug healed quickly from his surgery, but when moved into a larger recovery cage, his psychological scars became apparent. He was extremely angry and aggressive, swiping at people who came nearby and refusing to eat.

With patience and anti-anxiety medication, he improved a little and started accepting fruity medicated shakes from us, but continued to make anxious vocalisations and have a poor appetite and intermittent diarrhoea. A few weeks ago he developed persistent diarrhoea, which was treated with antibiotics and probiotics. Faecal tests showed no parasites or obvious causes for this diarrhoea and we continued rapport-building with him, offering delicious gut-friendly treats, such as yoghurt, to try and convince him that not all humans were bad.

However, today Plug appeared worse. We immediately took him to surgery and found that his large bowel had perforated, causing spillage of his gut contents into the abdomen and peritonitis. Sadly the damage was too severe to repair and he was put to sleep. There are many reasons why his gut could be so inflamed and the severe stress and malnutrition he suffered on the farm would definitely be major factors in his inflammatory bowel disease.

Although we cannot prove it, we are suspicious that Plug may have been a wild-caught bear that simply could not adapt to his incarceration on a farm and to close human contact. Our only consolation is that before he died, Plug experienced the freedom to stretch his limbs and discovered many yummy treats. I hope he died knowing that not all humans are bad. RIP

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