Aortic Aneurysms in Asiatic Black Bears (Ursus thibetanus) Rescued From Bile Farms in China
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2013
Monica K.H. Bando1, BS, MS, BVSc; Natalie Webster2, BVSc, CertVDI, DECVDI; O. Lynne Nelson3, DVM, MS, DACVIM; Claudia Hartley4, BVSc, CertVOphthal, DECVO; David Donaldson4, BVSc (Hons), DECVO; Jennifer O’Dwyer1, BVSc (Hons); Joanna Reynard1, BVSc, MSc, MRCVS; Heather J. Bacon1,5, BSc (Hons), BVSc, CertZooMed, MRCVS
1Animals Asia, China Bear Rescue Centre, Longqiao, Chengdu, Sichuan Province, People’s Republic of China; 2Adelaide Veterinary Specialist and Referral Centre, Norwood, SA, Australia; 3Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, USA; 4Animal Health Trust, Kentford, Newmarket, UK; 5Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education, The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, The University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush Veterinary Centre, Roslin, Midlothian Scotland, UK


Animals Asia has rescued 277 Asiatic black bears (Ursus thibetanus) from bile farms in China, where bears experience serious welfare issues.6 Aortic aneurysms in animals, while not commonly reported, can be associated with heredity, parasites, nutrition, and hypertension.2,4,5,7 Aortic aneurysm was diagnosed in nine bears at the China Bear Rescue Centre (CBRC) (Longqiao, Chengdu, China) through radiographs, computed tomography, and necropsies. Eight of the nine bears died, with dissecting aortic aneurysm as the cause of death in four. One of the deceased bears had hemopericardium without evidence of aortic dissection. Necropsies confirmed aortic aneurysm in three bears euthanized due to other conditions: spinal paresis, a nasal tumor, and unresponsive head-pressing. Clinically, one of the deceased bears coughed, likely related to severe aortic dilation. The surviving bear remains asymptomatic. Preliminary histopathology of necropsied bears revealed no primary aortic abnormalities. High prevalence of retinal and renal pathology in farmed bears may be attributed to hypertension and suggests an association with aortic aneurysm in this population. Seven (4.6%) of 152 bears at CBRC receive oral enalapril (0.5 mg/kg BID, Enalapril, Yabao Pharmaceutical Group, Shanxi, China) and amlodipine (0.05–0.1 mg/kg SID/BID, Norvasc, Beijing Yimin Pharmaceutical, Beijing, China) as treatment for suspect hypertensive retinopathy that was identified by fundic examination. In humans, aortic aneurysms and associated hypertension are well documented.1,3 To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first report of aortic aneurysms in ursids. Understanding the etiology of aortic aneurysms in this population is of importance, considering the severe health implications when rehabilitating farmed bears.

Literature Cited

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Speaker Information
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Monica K.H. Bando, BS, MS, BVSc
Animals Asia
China Bear Rescue Centre
Longqiao, Chengdu, Sichuan Province, People’s Republic of China

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