5-month-old Florida black bear cub recovers at Brevard Zoo



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Brody, a Florida black bear cub, lives at the Brevard Zoo.

Courtesy of Brevard Zoo

Brody, a 5-month-old Florida black bear cub at the Brevard Zoo, is recovering from surgery under the close supervision of the L3Harris Animal Care Center, the zoo’s animal hospital. 

Veterinarians at the zoo believe that the July 9 procedure is the first of its kind on a bear.

Brody was observed repeatedly licking the underside of his abdomen after it appeared to become sensitive to the touch.

It is unknown if the condition is congenital or the result of trauma sustained at a very young age. If left untreated, it could cause severe pain and arthritis as Brody matured.

The zoo veterinarian anesthetized Brody for an exam and discovered evidence of a condition similar to hip dysplasia in dogs.

The procedure, called juvenile pubic symphysiodesis (JPS) was led by local veterinarian Dr. Jeffrey Christiansen of Superior Veterinary Surgical Solutions. 

It involved the fusion of a pubic growth plate to encourage a widening of the hip sockets, leading to better coverage of the femoral heads.

Some of Brody’s fat was sent to a laboratory to extract stem cells to use in injections that promote healing.

For the first five days of recovery, animal care staff stayed overnight with Brody to keep him safe and comfortable.

“Young animals heal relatively quickly, so he should be running and climbing again fairly soon,” said Dr. Trevor Zachariah, the zoo’s director of veterinary programs. “The majority of the puppies that undergo JPS get a significant reduction in arthritis and other long-term consequences of hip dysplasia. Obviously, bears and dogs are different animals, but their hips are similar from a skeletal perspective.”

Brody was brought to the zoo by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in February at an estimated three weeks of age. He was found abandoned in Ocala National Forest with severe respiratory issues and nursed back to health by zoo staff.

The procedure cost about $7,500 between labor, drugs and other supplies. Those interested in covering these expenses can contact individual giving manager Sherri Law at slaw@brevardzoo.org or 321-254-9453,
ext. 234.