Romain Pizzi, the vet who pioneered keyhole surgery for animals, has operated on sharks, chimps even a moon bear
In 2012, the conservation charity Free the Bears approached Romain Pizzi, one of the most innovative wildlife surgeons in Europe, with an unusual patient. A specialist in laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery – until recently rare in veterinary medicine – Pizzi has operated on giraffes and tarantulas, penguins and baboons, giant tortoises and at least one shark, and maintains a reputation for taking on cases others won’t. If you’re in possession of a tiger with gallstones, or a suspiciously sickly beaver, you call Pizzi. As Matt Hunt, CEO of Free the Bears says, “We have other vets who are incredibly talented. But Romain is one of a kind.”
The patient in question was a three-year-old female Asiatic black bear, also known as a moon bear, called Champa. Moon bears, poached for their bile and bodyparts, are classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Rescued as a cub and brought to a Free the Bears sanctuary in Laos, Champa had a deformed skull and impaired vision. While other bears would socialise, she would mope around her enclosure, head down, seemingly in agony. Pizzi suspected she had hydrocephalus, a rare condition in which excess cerebrospinal fluid builds up in the skull, causing brain damage.
Read more: www.theguardian.com