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Posted: 7th May 2024

Dental surgery on rescued bear a success
The operation took around five hours to complete.
Specialist team flew to Armenia to perform operation.

An international team of veterinary surgeons has successfully performed dental surgery on a rescued bear in Armenia.

Misha, a brown bear, was found to have severe dental problems when he was rescued last year by the charity International Animal Rescue (IAR) and its partner the Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets. He is believed to have either escaped from captivity or been abandoned.

He was taken to a bear sanctuary in Urtsadzor, where he was put into quarantine. A check up, conducted while Misha was under anaesthetic, found that he was in urgent need of dental surgery – most of his teeth were broken and decaying, and his gums were swollen and infected.

The damage to his teeth suggested he had been gnawing on the bars of a cage, said the charity.

Misha was also severely malnourished, so specialist care was provided to improve his health and prepare him for surgery. When he was ready, a team of dental experts flew to Armenia to perform the operation.

The operating team was composed of veterinary dental specialists Gerhard Putter and Aurora Mateo, Jonathan Cracknell, a veterinary surgeon specialising in wildlife and anaesthetics, and dentist Paul Cassar.

When they began the surgery, the team found that more dental work was needed than had intially been expected.

Dr Cracknell said: “It was a complex surgery and, on closer inspection, poor Misha had even more problems with his teeth than had been anticipated. But the team did an amazing job, extracting seven teeth and performing root canal treatment on three others.”

The operation, which took around five hours to complete, was a success. IAR hopes that Misha will soon be able to move to a new enclosure that has recently been built at the sanctuary.

Dr Putter added: “Misha had multiple dental problems but we were able to tackle them all. With Jonathan on anaesthetics, and with Paul and Aurora, we had the perfect team and even just hours after the surgery we could see the improvement in Misha’s demeanour. And the following day we’re told he was on his feet and eating apples with gusto!”

The surgery was funded by donations from the public. Donations can still be made to support Misha’s recovery and rehabilitation on the IAR website.

Image © International Animal Rescue in partnership with Armenian group FPWC

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