Bear at BR Zoo diagnosed with cancer
BATON ROUGE - BREC's Baton Rouge Zoo announced that one of its spectacled bears has been diagnosed with cancer.
Zoo officials noticed a growth of the bear, Plato, inside of his mouth and was anesthetized for a more thorough exam. Veterinarians were able to discover that the tumor is on his lower jaw.
The procedure was performed a the zoo's Veterinary Hospital by Dr. Gordon Pirie, the zoo's vet. LSU vets also assisted with the biopsy.
Results from the biopsy are expected to be back next week, according to zoo officials. The results will determine the course of treatment for Plato which could include surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy.
The results will also help veterinarians determine a plan for his recovery.
"Plato is currently off exhibit as he recovers from the anesthesia but I understand that he is eating well which is a good sign and means he should be back on display to the public soon," Dr. Pirie said. 'We have been fortunate to have Plato in Baton Rouge for a very long time and our top priority will be to keep him comfortable during his treatment."
Plato is 22 years old and came to Baton Rouge from the Houston Zoo in October 2000. He shares an exhibit with another spectacled bear named Oso who is 23 years old. There are only 47 spectacled bears in North American zoos with the oldest being 26 years old. In the wild they are listed as "vulnerable" by the International Union Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to habitat destruction and poaching in the Andean Mountains.
Earlier this month, dogs entered the zoo and killed a pair of spot-nosed guenon monkeys. A third monkey was severely injured. In March and April alone, the zoo saw the deaths of a young tiger, two giraffes and a baby golden tamarin.
On April 16, the BR Zoo asked for an audit from its accrediting agency and an investigation by the USDA. The zoo was cleared of wrongdoing in the deaths of the giraffes by that audit. Stress and weather were cited as factors and not poor zookeeping.
Now, the USDA is reportedly investigating the death of the young Malayan tiger, but the girl who started the petition wants the APHIS to dig deeper and even consider closing the zoo.