Health Care

Finally, Relief for Bear With an 'Astonishing' Tongue

Nyan htoo and his brother were rescued as cubs by monks in Myanmar after they were taken from their mother to be sold illegally, the Telegraph reported. Instead, Nyan htoo dragged it on the floor, and the BBC reports the weight of the tongue worn out him so much that he often had to rest his head against the side of his cage.

The bear named Nyan Htoo, meaning "bright", endured a 4-hour-long surgery for the removal of almost half a stone of tongue tissue.

Moon bears, like Nyan htoo, are often kept in a cramped cages and "milked" for their bile which is highly prized in Oriental medicine.

The massive tongue that weighed 3kg (6.5lb) and prevented the animal named Nyan htoo from eating normally was removed in a four-hour emergency surgery.

Vets had been out to see him previous year and tried to remove some of the excess tissue to ease the swelling but over time the tongue extended, which meant they had to undertake a more aggressive procedure, the report said.

A team of vets, led by Heather Bacon of the University of Edinburgh's Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, helped to carry out the operation, according to media reports.

The cub and with his brother were brought to live in a monastery a year ago after monks rescued them from illegal sale in China.

Nyan Htoo after the successful surgery.

After realising his illness, the monks reached out to a local vet who then got in touch with Bacon.

She added: "Having to carry around [6.6 pounds] of tongue is not normal, and that's a lot of weight on his jaw and head".

After an examination, the veterinary team came to the conclusion that the swelling may have been caused by a mosquito-transmitted infection called elephantiasis - a condition commonly found in people in Myanmar, but never before documented in bears.

Ms Bacon worked with Caroline Nelson, a veterinary nurse at the Animals Asia Bear Rescue Centre in Vietnam, along with Romain Pizzi from Wildlife Surgery International to give Nyan htoo a new lease of life. "Now he should be able to close his mouth and manipulate food", said Bacon.

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