Asian Black Bear With Enormously Swollen Tongue Gets The Help He Needs

A young Asian black bear has been saved from a painful illness that caused his tongue to swell to an enormous size thanks to a team of vets who traveled overseas to operate on him.

The bear’s tongue was so swollen it had been dragging along the floor and injuring his mouth.

The 18-month-old bear, called Nyan htoo (meaning “bright), was rescued by a monastery in Myanmar when he was a cub, alongside his brother Kan htoo. The pair had been destined for illegal sale in China, the University of Edinburgh’s Royal School of Veterinary Studies said.

But following his rescue, poor Nyan htoo contracted an infection (likely a mosquito-transmitted elephantiasis) that caused the bear’s tongue to grow to several times its original size.

While he was still able to play and wrestle with his brother, his tongue was continually being injured against his teeth and causing him to rest his head on his cage bars to support the additional weight.

Although, he had an operation to remove excess tissue back in 2016, by June 2017 Nyan htoo’s tongue was so large it dragged along the ground.




That’s why veterinary surgeon Heather Bacon, with the University of Edinburgh, traveled to Myanmar with Caroline Nelson, a veterinary nurse with Animals Asia, and Romain Pizzi from Wildlife Surgery International.

The team worked with local vets and carried out a tongue amputation, that saw more than 6.6 pounds (3 kilos) of tissue removed during the surgery, which lasted over four hours.

Nyan htoo is now making a good recovery and back to playing with his brother but this time more comfortably!

Animal Asia says, “Nyan htoo and his brother will remain in the care of the monks in Myanmar although they will be able to contact us for ongoing advice if they need.”

Below is video of Nyan htoo prior to his operation.