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Eye surgeons gives sight back to bears

I was so disappointed to miss our friends ophthalmologists Claudia and David, plus Emily and James from the Animal Health Trust just recently when they joined our teams in both Vietnam and China to help our poorly sighted bears.

Presentations in New York, London and Florence prevented me from both enjoying their company, and seeing more miracles as a result of their expertise and kindness.

One such miracle saw Kollo, our beautiful little bear in Vietnam having his cataracts removed and being able to see for the first time in years. We first saw him at a facility near Hanoi many years ago and even then he was the sweetest little bear who just melted our hearts. Now at our sanctuary he has been battling blindness ever since with all the stoicism we have come to love and admire in so many of our bears.

That David and Claudia worked their magic and gave him sight is beyond wonderful, and Kollo is finally able to enjoy the sight of the world around him, including his best friend Baerli, as they romp around together outside in the sun.

And beautiful Murko (below) had a cataract removed from his left eye, meaning that he can now see out of both eyes instead of only one.

Arriving in to Chengdu, China just after Claudia and team had left, I saw a whole host of strange looking bears with circles around their eyes as a result of having their fur shaved in preparation for the surgical procedures. Struggling to put a name to a face, I was sure I knew, I was reminded by one of our staff that he was, in fact, Blue, who appeared to have had a mini facelift, but was actually one of the patients to have had excessive skin folds removed - and now looked a completely different bear.

Please see here for more about the amazing work of the Animal Health Trust, and that of our amazing vet and bear teams too who, as ever, ran ragged the whole time to help over 50 bears who are now seeing quite literally a different world.

Endless thanks again to Claudia, David, James and Emily for their indescribable kindness and generosity to Kollo, Blue and friends in Vietnam and China.

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