• International
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Australia
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Hong Kong (EN)
  • Hong Kong (繁)
  • animalasia.lang_fr
  • China
  • Vietnam

Carney taken on St Pat's Day

As visiting ophthalmologists Claudia and David from Animal Health Trust are here with us on site at our sanctuary in Chengdu, so generously giving their time to bring sight back to some of our blind bears, these days were meant to be filled with wonder and joy as bears such as Snoopy will hopefully be able see for the very first time.

But, in the midst of such hope, in the past week, we have lost two of our beautiful bears to the legacy of bear farming. Heather, our Senior Vet, has been run ragged over the past 10 days or so, but found time to write about discovering Mafi’s shocking liver cancer last week, and our sadness at losing Carney, one of our newly rescued bears (pictured here shortly after she arrived at the sanctuary).

Carney was gently euthanised on Tuesday, following previous abuses on the farm – terrible injuries we just couldn’t heal. Nicknamed after Bernadette Carney (who prefers to be called by her surname) in our Hong Kong office and who has yet to meet the bears in person – Carney was a sweet and contented bear, who touched everyone who saw her.

Sadly, Carney died on St Patrick's Day, which must have made it extra hard for our Irish Carney in Hong Kong, who was so looking forward to meeting her lovely bear.

Here’s Heather’s tribute to Mafi and Carney – with words on behalf of us all, thanking each and every one of you reading this message for your faith and support in our work and final goal. After all, without you, the bears would remain locked away on these hideous farms, battered, helpless, without hope.

“Life at the China Bear Rescue Centre is always a roller-coaster of emotions, and this has been sharply brought home to us in the last week. As we excitedly anticipated the arrival of the ophthalmology specialists Dr Claudia Hartley and Dr David Donaldson from the Animal Health Trust, UK, kindly donating their time and expertise to restore sight to our blind bears, we were sharply reminded that the shadow of the bile farms is never far away.

Mafi has been a curvaceous lady ever since she settled happily into her new life at the rescue centre, her favourite exercise being to spend a sunny afternoon relaxing on her bamboo swing in the enclosure.

Although often quite an active bear, this winter she started missing feeds and snoozing the mornings away in her basket – perhaps just a symptom of the seasonal winter dormancy so common in our bears. She remained bright, happily wandering over to meet visitors and graciously accepting a slice of sweet juicy apple or a lick of strawberry jam.

However when her appetite became more selective and she started to lose her voluptuous curves – the alarm bells rang. A painstaking assessment of her medical and behavioural history by vet Faithe and bear manager Donata confirmed that this was unlikely to be normal seasonal behaviour, and Mafi was immediately anaesthetised for a health-check.

On the surgery table, our worst fears were confirmed, sweet, gentle Mafi was carrying an invasive liver tumour – more than 6kg in weight. Once again this malignant presence had been hidden by the strength, stoicism and lively nature of a wonderful bear, when any other species would have succumbed to its malign influences weeks ago.

Our only small comfort was that thanks to the wonderful care provided by the team around her, Mafi had not experienced the pain of terminal stage cancer but instead had been gently euthanised after four wonderful years of treats and play. Mafi’s name means forgiveness in Hindi, and I know that everyone who worked with her would agree that there was no more appropriate a name for this beautiful girl. RIP.

After the shock of losing Mafi, we all threw ourselves into working with Dr Claudia, anaesthetising two bears every day for surgery and assessment of their eye disease, desperate to repair some of the damage inflicted by the bear farmers.

Carney, the last bear off the truck from our February 6th Rescue, was scheduled for assessment after her initial brief health check had revealed abnormalities in her eyes, in addition to four rotten canines, cut to the gums, and joints fused after a lifetime of crouching in a tiny cage.

An older lady and a calm and placid bear, Carney loved nothing more than snuggling up in her straw bed, chewing on her enrichment toys and happily munching her browse and fruit. Under anaesthesia though, Dr Claudia’s expert assessment revealed bad news; completely blind in her left eye, Carney also had multiple small tumours invading into her right eye.

As we were digesting this information, vet nurse Wendy, responsible for monitoring Carney’s anaesthesia, raised her concerns – Carney was struggling to breathe. Quickly we moved through to the x-ray room where radiographs of her chest revealed dilated cardiomyopathy with congestion of her lungs – signs of progressive heart failure.

Additional x-rays showed severe spinal fusion and osteoarthritis of her hips, knees and elbows, confirming the poor mobility detected on clinical examination. With all of this valuable information, we had a difficult decision to make.

Carney’s heart disease was severe and made the chances of her surviving surgery to remove her gall bladder extremely slim. Also, she would require additional surgeries to remove her rotten and painful teeth, she had tumours in her right eye and was blind in her left, and her severe spinal and joint arthritis would be a constant source of pain.

Even with the most intensive veterinary management, her quality of life would be poor. Sadly, we all agreed it would be kinder for her to slip away under anaesthesia, and so she was gently put to sleep. As we gathered for her funeral, bear manager Belinda brought a wreath of straw, in memory of a special girl who had been so content with such simple pleasures, and who loved nothing more than curling up in her straw nest. RIP.

Despite the sadness of the last few days, I think the whole team here at the Moon Bear Rescue Centre has been buoyed by the international support and generous donations that make the existence of our centre possible. We are able to offer the highest quality of care to our bears thanks to the generosity of experts at facilities such as the Animal Health Trust who donate their time and expertise, and our generous sponsors and donors worldwide who make the running and equipping of our veterinary hospital and bear houses possible.

Without you all, we could not have come close to achieving what we have. Together, we are making an enormous difference to the lives of our wonderful bears. Thank you for being part of our team.”

comments powered by Disqus