Topeka Zoo Black Bear undergoes stem cell therapy

"Peek" the American Black Bear. (Courtesy: Topeka Zoo)

TOPEKA (KSNT) – In an unusual step for the Topeka Zoo, its 20-year old American Black Bear is undergoing stem cell therapy to deal with spinal problems.

Zoo officials say a zoo handler notices in mid-January that Peek, the bear, was having problems with her hind legs, “almost as if they had fallen asleep”, says Zoo Director Brendan Wiley.

With the help of St. Francis Health Center and University bird and Small Animal Hospital the bear was tranquilized and then given a CT scan. AT the same time Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Shirley Llizo had the team harvest fat cells from the bear, which could be converted to stem cells to be injected back into the bear later that night.

The CT scan found the problem was spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal column that causes pressure on the spinal cord.

Zoo officials say one week after the scan and stem cell therapy Peek began showing improvement and the therapy will continue.


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