First Brain Surgery Performed on Bear

An Asiatic black bear at a Laos sanctuary is cured of hydrocephalus.

Rescued as a cub, Champa stood out from the start: She had a protruding forehead and had trouble socializing with the other bears at the sanctuary. Over time, her growth slowed, her behavior became more erratic, and her vision faded.

Sanctuary staff and veterinarians suspected hydrocephalus, or "water on the brain," a disease that strikes humans as well as animals. It's most commonly caused by the blockage or overproduction of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain's cavities.

In most Western countries, a wild animal with hydrocephalus would likely be euthanized. "Having hydrocephalus is like having an absolutely mind-blowing, constant migraine," said veterinarian Romain Pizzi. But because of the strong Buddhist tradition in Laos and the technicalities of its wildlife protection laws,

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