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VSH Specialist Surgeon Performs First Ever Orthopedic Procedure on Moon Bear

VSH specialist surgeon, Dr. Alane Cahalane, performed first-of-its-kind surgery on Claudia, a 10 year old Moon bear, at the Animals Asia sanctuary in the Chengdu region.

VSH Specialist Surgeon Performs First Ever Orthopedic Procedure on Moon Bear

In February 2015, VSH Hong Kong was contacted by Animals Asia seeking treatment for Claudia.  Claudia is an approximately 10-15 year old, 167kg Moon Bear who was rescued by Animals Asia and lives at their China Bear Rescue Centre (CRBC)

In early January, Claudia became lame on her right forelimb.  Claudia had a previous history of bilateral forelimb lameness that had responded to rest and pain medication.  But this time, her lameness showed no signs of improvement with conservative therapy.  A CT scan revealed that Claudia suffered from bilateral incomplete ossification of the humeral condyles, a condition that until now had never been reported in any bear species.  This condition causes the bones to remain immature, which in Claudia’s case, caused her right elbow to fracture.  

Over a 5 week period, VSH specialist surgeon, Dr Alane Cahalane, made two trips to Chengdu, performing surgical procedures aimed at repairing and stabilizing Claudia’s injured elbows.  As a board certified small animal surgeon. Dr Alane has performed thousands of successful surgeries in dogs and cats. It turns out, the anatomy of a bear elbow is not too dissimilar to that of a dog.

The two days in the operation theatre were grueling, but Dr. Alane successfully stabilized the fractured right humerus as well as the fissure in the left humerus. 

 “I am truly honored and humbled to be able to provide my expertise to Animals Asia, an organization that truly incites positive change.” said Dr. Alane.  “Working with the team at Animals Asia and Claudia has been a big highlight of an already amazing year, and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to contribute in my own way.”    

In an effort to increase the chances of a successful outcome, Dr. Alane utilized CT images to produce a 3D printed model of Claudia’s elbow. 

3D printed model of Claudia’s fractured elbow.

Animals Asia founder and CEO, Jill Robinson MBE said: “It goes without saying that we were incredibly fortunate and grateful to have such an accomplished advocate for veterinary medicine at CBRC. Armed with the best in veterinary orthopedic equipment, years of specialist experience, and her seasoned vet nurse, [Nick] Fu. Dr Alane was well prepared to attempt a surgery that, to our knowledge, had never been performed on a bear before.”

Today Claudia is doing wonderfully and is on her way to a full recovery.  “Thanks to Dr Alane’s expertise, Claudia can look forward to a future roaming our sanctuary enclosures with her friends. She will be able to forage and explore, play, rest and bask in all the best things life at the sanctuary has to offer.”

The procedures performed on Claudia were sponsored by VSH Hong Kong, Securos, and Claudia’s own generous sponsor.

In 2014, Dr. Alane co-founded VSH Hong Kong, the first dedicated specialty hospital in the region, where she serves as a specialist surgeon and CEO.   Dr. Alane can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and is available for questions and consultations from the local and regional veterinary community.

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