Moon Bear Forced to Have Gigantic Tongue Removed by Team of Vets

Nyan htoo during surgery.

Despite Nyan htoo's name meaning "bright", there was nothing upbeat or optimistic about his early life when was he was held captive with his brother and destined for illegal sale in China.

Images released by the University of Edinburgh's Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies show how Nyan htoo's tongue drooped out of his mouth and had swollen at the tip like a huge pink balloon. Another group of vets visited the bear a year ago and attempted to remove some of the excess tissue from the tongue, but it continued growing afterward.

"This was a really unusual medical condition - never before seen in any species of bear - but we weren't about to give up on Nyan htoo", Nelson said, according to the Herald.

The bear's tongue became so enlarged that Nyan htoo could not shut his mouth.

The bear named Nyan Htoo, meaning "bright", endured a 4-hour-long surgery for the removal of almost half a stone of tongue tissue.

It's not clear what caused the swelling in the first place.

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A bear rescued by monks in Myanmar had to undergo a four hour emergency surgery to remove his tongue which had grown so big that it was dragging on the ground.

After an examination, the veterinary team came to the conclusion that the swelling may have been caused by a mosquito-transmitted infection called elephantiasis - a condition commonly found in people in Myanmar, but never before documented in bears.

A team of vets, led by Heather Bacon of the University of Edinburgh's Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, helped to carry out the operation, according to media reports.

"Having to carry around [6.5 pound] of tongue is not normal and that's a lot of weight on his jaw and head".

"I've worked with bears for over 10 years and I've never seen anything like it", said Bacon in an interview with The Guardian.

Caroline Nelson-a veterinary nurse at Animals Asia's Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre who was also part of the team that treated Nyan htoo-said that the bear would now "be able to eat much more comfortably, sleep in more natural positions and move more freely for the rest of his life".

The removal of the tongue was a last-ditch effort to salvage Nyan Htoo's health and quality of life.

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