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Matt Hunt

Champa: The Bear Who Got Brain Surgery

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Matt Hunt

While brain surgery has become a fairly common procedure with humans, it is still very rarely used on animal patients, who have drastically different anatomies than we do. Fortunately for Champa, an Asiatic black bear living in a sanctuary in Laos, a handful of veterinarians are still willing to experiment with brain surgery—especially if the procedure could save an animal's life.

Champa was rescued from wildlife traffickers when she was only a cub, but she was still facing danger—this time from the inside. She suffered from hydrocephalus, a condition that causes brain swelling, which can lead to mental impairment, vision issues, and death. Her forehead was already protruding, she had difficulties socializing with other bears, she was growing slowly, and her vision was becoming damaged. So the nonprofit that runs the sanctuary where she lives got in touch with Romain Pizzi, a South African veterinary surgeon, and asked him to do the first ever brain surgery on a bear.

The six hour surgery was no picnic, but Pizzi performed with remarkable precision and Champa is now recovering well. She is already growing and has become much more social with the other bears. While the surgery can't undo all the negative effects of the condition, Champa's life is already drastically improved. As Pizzi put it, “Operating on one bear won’t save bears from extinction, and making life better for one bear won’t change the world. But the world of that one bear is changed forever.”

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Animals
Why Male Hyenas Have It Worse Than Females
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iStock

A life of hunting zebras and raising young on the savanna isn’t half bad for a female hyena. Sadly, the same can’t be said for their male counterparts. As MinuteEarth explains, things take a downturn for the males of the species once they hit adolescence. No female in their pack will mate with them, a behavior scientists believe evolved to avoid inbreeding, so they head off in search of a different group to join. After dealing with vicious hazing from their new clan, they file in at the bottom of the rank and wait for other males above them to die so that they can slowly gain status.

Even after rising through the hierarchy, the most a male hyena can aspire to is being second place to the lowest-ranking female. Thanks to their bulky build and aggressive behavior, female hyenas enjoy a dominant position that’s rare in the animal kingdom.

After watching the video below, head over here for more facts about hyenas.

[h/t MinuteEarth]

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Animals
Watch as Hummingbirds Fly, Drink, and Flap Their Tiny Wings in Slow Motion
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Hummingbirds have more feathers per inch than nearly any other bird, but it’s hard to fully appreciate their luminescent colors when they beat their wings between 70 to 200 times per second.

For the enjoyment of birders everywhere, National Geographic photographer Anand Varma teamed up with bird biologists and used a high-speed, high-resolution camera to capture the tiny creatures in slow motion as they flew through wind tunnels, drank artificial nectar from a glass vessel, and shook water from their magnificent plumage.

[h/t The Kid Should See This]

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