A new collaboration with the animal charity Free the Bears is born.

As part of the ELAOS project – we are extending the sampling and research on the transmission of tuberculosis at the Human-animal interface to the population of bears rescued by the animal charity Free the Bears (FTB), which has opened a mountain-top reserve in Laos for animals that have been saved from the illegal wildlife trade (bile farms and tourist entertainment). The charity has over 80 bears in its care. The ultimate goal of this NGO is to release the rescued bears back into a safer wild territory; however, the susceptibility of contracting tuberculosis from humans and transmitting it to peers has been already documented in a FTB sanctuary in Cambodia. One of the aims, as for the elephant study, is to optimize and validate a non-invasive diagnostic procedure to avoid stressful and sometimes risky broncho-alveolar lavages required to detect the Mycobacterium. A meeting at the office of FTB was held, followed by the visit of the sanctuary and the veterinary clinic located 50 minutes away from the town of Luang Prabang. (Photos S. Locatelli).

Photo 1: Meeting at Free The Bears. From left to right: Matt Hunt- CEO, Meng Xiong – Veterinarian, Jacqui Esteban-Nurse Veterinarian, Sabrina Locatelli, IRD researcher, Brian Crudge- Regional Director, Marta Faus Cortes – Senior Veterinarian.  
Photo 2 : Set in a quiet mountain valley, the Luang Prabang Wildlife Sactuary includes a wildlife hospital, a nursery for cubs, bear houses, an education center, and accommodations for volunteers. 
Photo 3 : Malayan sun bears (Helarctos malayanus)
Photo 4 : Asian black bear (Ursus thibetanus), also known as moon bears.


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