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A Heavy Heart for Dewi

Thursday, April 29, 2010 11:23am
sunbear_copyright_david_mattner 004.jpg

Even when you know it’s the right thing to do, euthanasing an animal because of a debilitating incurable disease is always done with heavy heart – especially when that animal had been around for as long, and had touched as many zoo staff and visitors, as Dewi, one of our Malayan sun bears.

When the time came, keepers from around the zoo came to see Dewi for one last time, and her primary keeper came in on her day off to say goodbye.

At 23 years old, Dewi was very well known by the veterinary team. Since 1999 she had suffered significant allergy problems that made her scratch a lot. She had a number of challenging complications associated with this disease, but with fantastic help from veterinary specialists we found a treatment protocol that had her itch well under control.

Then in March 2010 her belly became noticeably distended. When she was anaesthetised to investigate the problem further, an abdominal ultrasound showed the swelling was due to a build up of fluid. The cause of this could not be definitively determined at that time, but heart disease was thought to be most likely.

We started her on some medication to reduce the fluid build up and make her more comfortable, and this worked well for several weeks. However, Dewi’s attitude then started to drop and she was refusing to eat, which was very unlike her! For a bear who had always been as full of life as Dewi, it was heartbreaking to see her suffering as she was. We decided to anaesthetise her again, and when we examined her up close it was evident that she was in organ failure. The fluid in her belly had increased again, and she had become very jaundiced.

It was evident to all present that it was the time to say goodbye. At post-mortem, we found she had cancer in her liver, her lung and at the base of her heart.

Although she never bred, Dewi was a fantastic representative for the plight of her species, and contributed much to efforts to save bears in South East Asia.

The investigation of Dewi’s disease and her euthanasia were filmed for channel 7’s The Zoo program. Look out for the story when it goes to air.

Dave McLelland, Zoos SA vet


OMG Dewi, !!!!!

I didnt realise this until i came on here today, but i sponsered Akbar, Dewi and Manji Last year and i absolutly love your sun bears at the zoo.
Posted By: Grace Keatley on Monday, July 04, 2011 5:43pm

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Page Last Updated October 27, 2010, 2:37 am