Black Bear With 3 Kilogram Tongue Has It Surgically Removed

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Recently a bear was forced to have emergency surgery to remove its tongue after it had grown so large and become so heavy that it lolled from its mouth and was being dragged along the floor. Veterinarians familiar with case say that the bizarre swelling which resulted in a tongue that weighed 3 kilograms is entirely without precedent. One vet who has been working with bears for more than a decade said she had never seen anything like it and was completely astonished.

Rescued by monks

The Asian black bear, which is more commonly referred to as a moon bear because they have a golden crescent on their chest is named Nyan htoo. He was rescued by monks following his abduction from his mother by traffickers from Myanmar who were planning to send him to China. In China there is massive demand for bear gall bladders which are used as treatments in traditional Asian medicine.

Monks contacted vets

The monks of course immediately noticed the size of the bear’s tongue and contacted a local vet who in turn alerted another vet from the UK. She along with a number of other specialists travelled to the monastery in rural Myanmar where the bear was being cared for. Since the bear was less than two years of age, the vets believe the condition could be congenital or a form of elephantiasis which is a parasitic infection transmitted by mosquitos. The latter thesis however is less likely because no other species has ever been affected by it.

The first treatment attempt failed

Last year the team of vets visited the bear and attempted to remove some of the excess tissue in order to ease the swelling. That proved to be unsuccessful because over time, the tongue continued to extend which meant a more aggressive approach was necessary. There was a lot of discussion and debate within the team because the procedure is a major surgery which cannot be undone. In the end it was concluded that quality of life was most important and removal was the best way for the bear to live a normal life as possible.

The bear will need to adjust

The vet who treated the bear said it is not normal to have to carry a tongue that weighs 3 kilograms which is a lot of weight on both the jaw and head. Additionally, the tongue was being dragged around on the floor and that is simply unhygienic. Furthermore, the bear was unable to close his mouth. Now the tongue has been removed he is able to close his mouth and manipulate food. There will be a period of adjustment and adaptation following the procedure, but in the end, it’s probably the best solution to the problem the vet concluded.

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