Sick bear recovering after Vietnamese military came to his aid

26 October 2016

Bear arriving at Vietnamese army hospital

Rescued moon bear Zebedee was escorted into a local army hospital to use specialist equipment after suffering from coughing fits.

The bear was sedated before being transported to the facility in Vietnam’s Vinh Phuc province. The sleeping bear entered the military hospital covered by a blanket to avoid panicking the human patients on site.

bear entering Vietnamese army hospital

At the hospital, Animals Asia’s veterinary team were met by military officials and doctors who helped bring Zebedee into the operating theatre.

Once safely in position, digital radiography was used to inspect Zebedee’s lungs revealing he was suffering from bronchopneumonia.

Vietnamese military doctors help AAF vet team position Zebedee for scan 3

Zebedee is one of around 150 bears cared for by Animals Asia at its nearby sanctuary in Tam Dao National Park. The vast majority of the bears have been rescued from bile farms.

Animals Asia Senior Veterinarian Mandala Hunter-Ishikawa said:

“When we noticed Zebedee had begun coughing and was having trouble breathing, we knew we would need a radiograph to get the bottom of it. We are so fortunate to have supporters in the community and at the local hospital who agreed to let us use the facilities. As you’d expect Zebedee attracted quite a lot of attention from staff, but the procedure went smoothly with Zebedee sleeping peacefully throughout.”

Bear moved into position as military doctors watch on

Thankfully Zebedee’s condition can be treated with antibiotics, but the cause of the infection will require specialist surgery.

Zebedee has lived with a disfigured face for almost his entire life. The bear was captured as a cub by poachers and was struck across the face after attempting an escape.

Zebedee with a tyre

He then spent 15 years locked in a tiny cage in a household kitchen suffering regular bile extractions. When rescued by Animals Asia in 2009, vets had to extract almost every one of Zebedee’s broken teeth and remove his gall bladder, which had been mutilated by extractions.

The violent blow to his face left Zebedee with a hole – known as a fistula – from his mouth to his nasal passage. For 20 years, his sinuses have been exposed to food and particles in his mouth, leaving him more susceptible to infections such as bronchopneumonia.

Now Animals Asia vets have reached out to specialist surgeon Doctor Alane Cahalane who believes she can perform the corrective surgery necessary to close the long-standing fistula.

Animals Asia founder and CEO, Jill Robinson MBE said:

“We can’t thank the doctors, nurses, management and military personnel at the hospital enough for what they have done for Zebedee. For them to let us use their facilities is going above and beyond their responsibilities and is a testament to their compassion.

“Zebedee’s bronchopneumonia will resolve with medication and he is already back at his house playing happily with friends and basking in the sunshine where he belongs.

“Now we can look forward to the next stage of Zebedee’s recovery which will be to finally close the fistula which has affected him his entire life. We are privileged to have a fantastic relationship with Doctor Cahalane who has given her services pro bono many times to help the bears. Fingers crossed she will be able to finally correct Zebedee’s lifelong disfigurement later in the year.”

Mandala greeted by Military doctors