Montana Grizzly Encounter waits for answers about sick bear


Montana Grizzly Encounter waits for answers about sick bear

BOZEMAN, Mont. - The Montana Grizzly Encounter, just east of Bozeman, is waiting for test results they hope will tell them what's wrong with one of their brown bears.

Lucy the bear just returned from Washington State, where she underwent an MRI after suffering seizures. Three year-old brown bear Lucy is ordinarily spunky and spry, but two weeks ago, things changed.

"She started to seem depressed and just slow-moving," says Montana Grizzly Encounter Director Ami Testa.

Testa tells us she was worried about Lucy and made an appointment with the vet.

"The day before he was supposed to come is when she has her seizure, so we called immediately and by the time he was able to get out here she had another one," explains Testa.

But when the vet ran tests, everything came back normal.

"All we could figure is it had to be something in her brain," Testa says.

That's when they set up an MRI at Washington State University. Representatives tell us it's one of the few vet colleges in the nation with an MRI in house.

"Our MRI is the same size that you use with human beings. There aren't veterinary MRIs and human MRIs, there are just MRIs," says WSU Public Information Officer Charlie Powell.

Powell tells us it's not easy getting a bear into an MRI, but once they did, they started getting answers.

"We found a number of lesions in the bear's brain that could be a variety of things from infectious masses to parasites to cancer. It's unlikely that those are cancerous types of growths because the bear's only 3 years old and there's quite an extensive amount of growth," explains Powell.

Those growths caused water on the brain, which likely triggered Lucy's seizures. Yet, without a clear explanation for the masses, the vets took a spinal tap, another difficult feat due to Lucy's thick layer of fat.

Now, vets are running tests to see if they can identify exactly what's wrong. For now, Testa is spending every possible moment with Lucy.

"I've been with her, except for when she's sleeping at night, pretty much sitting out here in my chair next to her, most of the time trying to get medicine in her," says Testa.

Testa expects to get the test results back sometime this week. Until then, she will continue to treat Lucy with several different antibiotics, steroids and nausea medication.

Lucy has a long road ahead of her with eight weeks of treatment.

Powell tells us they may never find out what's wrong with Lucy but he says she may respond well to treatment and not require further medical attention.

More Stories