Quick thinking saves Maori the bear

01 January 2014

The quick thinking of our vet, Dr Jan Schmidt-Burbach, has saved the life of a much-loved bear at our Balkasar Sanctuary in Pakistan.

Maori was surrendered to us in September 2013 and taken to safety at the Balkasar sanctuary. She bore painful injuries from her life being attacked by dogs for sport - her muzzle was covered in scars from the cruel fights. She was slow, withdrawn and had little interest in food.

Once treated and cared for by our wonderful team, she blossomed. No longer living in terrible conditions and in fear for her life, her eating improved and she became bolder.

Struck down by a mystery illness

However, the Balkasar staff became very concerned earlier this month when Maori developed twitches and spasms in her legs and seemed very uncomfortable. They hastily carried out blood tests, but the results were puzzlingly inconclusive.

Quick thinking saves Maori’s life

When Jan, an experienced wildlife vet, suggested testing the bear’s eyesight, they discovered she had become blind in one eye. This led Jan to believe that Maori could be suffering a stroke caused by a blood clot. But what was the best way to treat her?

“When humans suffer from blood clots, they are very often given anti-coagulants – blood thinners – to dissolve the clots, but we couldn’t find any precedence of giving them to bears. However, we felt it was definitely worth a try,” Jan explained.

The clever treatment worked quickly. “On the day the blood-thinning drug was administered, she couldn’t get up, but by the next day she showed marvellous signs of recovery and was able to get up again. We were all so relieved,” said Jan.

Thanks to Jan’s quick thinking, Maori is much better and will soon be released from quarantine into the main enclosure.

Rescue is just the beginning

Our commitment to these bears reaches far beyond rescue. With the help of our dedicated supporters, we ensure that they’re protected and looked after for the rest of their days.

We couldn’t have rescued Maori and given her the urgent lifesaving treatment without their generosity.

40 more bears to save

There are still 40 bears in Pakistan used for the cruel blood sport of bear baiting. Tormented by fighting dogs and held in terrible conditions, they suffer pain, hunger and mental distress every day.

We’re continuing to work with our local partners to rescue these remaining bears and bring an end to the exploitation and cruelty.

Read more about our work in ending the bear bile industry