Two bears and a 5-month old mountain lion were found with serious burns following the Thomas Fire in Southern California.
Hero vet Jamie Peyton was enlisted to help develop a plan for the wild animals. She’s the Chief of the Integrative Medicine Service at UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, and came up with the idea that potentially saved the animals lives. The estimated healing time for their third-degree paw pad burns was 4-6 months. The veterinarians knew they couldn’t keep them in captivity for this long without risking them acclimating to captivity; they needed a miracle, especially after discovering one of the bears was pregnant.
Peyton had heard of fish skin used to treat burn victims in Brazil and decided to take the risk. The animals had Tilapia bandages applied to their burned paws, they were safe if the animals ate them (the mountain lion cub couldn’t resist) and the supplies were readily available.
“The high collagen level in the fish skins helps with healing and acts like a matrix,” said Peyton. “It would act as protection and it was pretty inexpensive and available.”
The bears also received acupuncture, chiropractic care, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, and cold laser therapy. The treatments help with pain management and enhance wound healing by increasing blood and lymphatic flow. The most extreme results, however, were from the Tilapia bandages.
“You want to do everything possible to get these animals feeling better. It’s not their fault they were in this horrible fire and they’re in a strange environment and they don’t know what’s going on and they hurt.”
For more wildfire surviving animals check out Odin, the hero dog.