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Vet helps remove bear's 'monstrously' enlarged tongue 

Edinburgh University's Heather Bacon worked with a team in Myanmar to save Nyan htoo.

Before: Vets believe he had an infection called elephantiasis.
Before: Vets believe he had an infection called elephantiasis. The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

A vet from Scotland helped to remove a bear's tongue after it became so swollen it dragged along the floor.

Nyan htoo and his brother were destined for illegal sale in China when they were cubs before monks in Myanmar stepped in to save them.

After their rescue, it soon became clear the animal was suffering from an unknown disease that caused his tongue to become "monstrously" enlarged.

Vets first operated on Nyan htoo in 2016 in an attempt to remove the excess tissue but the swelling recurred and worsened over time.

By June 2017, the disease was badly affecting Nyan htoo's quality of life, with his tongue too large to remain in his mouth, it was often injured and dragged around the floor.

Animal welfare expert and veterinary surgeon Heather Bacon, of Edinburgh University's Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, worked with Caroline Nelson, a veterinary nurse at the Animals Asia Bear Rescue Centre in Vietnam.

After: Nyan htoo with his tongue now removed.
After: Nyan htoo with his tongue now removed. The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

They were joined by Romain Pizzi from Wildlife Surgery International and travelled to Myanmar to work with local vets to carry out a tongue amputation.

Three kilogrammes of tissue were removed in a procedure that lasted four hours in soaring temperatures.

After examination, the veterinary team believe the swelling may have been caused by a mosquito-transmitted infection called elephantiasis.

The condition is common in people in Myanmar but has never been reported in bears.

Ms Bacon said: "This was an opportunity for us to use our veterinary and animal welfare expertise to make a significant difference for a bear and the people who care for him.

"Thanks to the enthusiasm and compassion of all involved in this uniquely collaborative project, we have been able to make a tangible improvement in the quality of Nyan htoo's life, and hope to continue our work in Myanmar to promote improvements in animal welfare and veterinary training."

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