The Oakland Zoo's veterinary team is striving to save an "extremely ill" and orphaned black bear cub that was recently found wandering into a shop in South Lake Tahoe, the zoo said Tuesday.
The bear, given the name Nixon for the shop where he walked into last week, is suffering from several health issues, including a severe skin infection resulting in extreme hair loss, pneumonia, a viral infection, internal parasites and an infected bone in one of his feet, the zoo said.
"It’s touch and go right now," Dr. Alex Herman, head of veterinary services at the zoo, said in a statement. "This cub is a tough little guy; despite his physical state, he’s eating well and is in good spirits. We are putting our best efforts into practicing next-level medicine on him, and hope we can save his life."
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Nixon, estimated to be about 8 months old and weighing in at 28 pounds, was transported to the zoo last Friday by wildlife biologists with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). CDFW initially received the cub from BEAR League in Lake Tahoe.
After examining the cub, CDFW contacted the zoo in hopes it could provide the animal further care and rehabilitation at its veterinary hospital.
"Although this cub has serious medical issues, the Oakland Zoo team is highly capable and graciously agreed to further evaluate this cub and provide the best care possible," CDFW wildlife veterinarian Dr. Brandon Munk said in a statement. "CDFW and the zoo will work together to determine the best course of action for the cub and to keep the public updated."
Veterinarians at the zoo have been treating Nixon since he arrived, giving him antibiotics, antifungals and special baths to treat his infected skin. Since he doesn't have much fur, the zoo is keeping him under heat lamps.
He's also receiving a special diet of "bear chow," a type of kibble that provides bears with the nutrients they need to reach a healthy weight. The food is soaked in formula, produce and browse, the zoo said.
If Nixon makes it, he will not return to the wild because he was orphaned at a young age and didn't learn how to survive in the wild from his mother.