These bears burnt during California wildfires were healed using fish skin

Posted January 28, 2018

When Jamie Peyton first examined the bears' paws last month, she figured they might take six months to heal.

A statement given by the CDFW mentioned that the bears suffered severe injuries, along with "oozing wounds, and, in some cases, paw pads that were completely burned off".

Clifford predicted that veterinarians will be treating more burned animals in the future as climate change makes the likelihood of more wildfires in future higher. The team also had trouble getting the bears to eat pain medication. "We knew there was a high probability that she could reject the cub, due to all the stress she was under".

Peyton had read a news story about scientists in Brazil successfully using sterilized tilapia skin on human burns and chose to try the technique on the bears.

Peyton procured the skin from a local fish market, sterilized it and then sutured it onto the sedated animals' paws.

Subscribe to Canada Free Press for FREErinarians used acupuncture, fish skins and other alternative medical treatments to help wild animals recover from the burns.

"I adore them, but they're wild".

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Peyton said she read about people in Brazil using the skin to successfully treat burns on humans and decided it was worth trying, UC Davis said. "She was more mobile, which in my mind is a huge success for pain control".

Peyton, meanwhile, said she plans to experiment more with using tilapia skin to help the kind of animals she more typically sees - pets.

The younger bear rests in her holding enclosure after her treatment is finished. The tilapia skin was wrapped in rice paper and corn husks as a precaution, but the skin itself wasn't coated with anything to discourage the bears from licking or eating it; it has pain-relieving properties, and the team believes the bears chose to leave the bandages because they recognized how much more comfortable they were with them on.

The bears also received acupuncture, chiropractic care, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, and cold laser therapy. The team also worked with UC Davis veterinary pharmacists to create a new burn salve designed to ease the bears' pain. Both were soon walking and have been released into the wild.

Peyton said she first tried the usual care: Cleaning the burns, removing dead tissue and applying ointments. They also didn't remove the skin until their next application 10 days later, which Peyton took to mean the bears understood the treatment helped them feel better. Fortunately, the mountain lion's burns were less severe and required tilapia only on one paw, she said.

"Cats don't like stuff on their feet", Peyton said. "These individual animals have contributed to promoting how we're going to treat burns in the future".

Dr Jamie Peyton, of the UC Davis Veterinary Teaching Hospital, said: "We expected the outer wrapping to eventually come off, but we hoped the tilapia would keep steady pressure on the wounds and serve as an artificial skin long enough to speed healing of the wounds underneath". Both bears' original habitat had been destroyed by fire, so CDFW officers moved dirt and logs to create separate winter dens for the bears in the Los Padres National Forest. Each is wearing a satellite collar so CDFW can monitor their movements and survival.