Two bears that were badly burned in last month's Southern California wildfires are back in the wild after doctors used alternative treatments including acupuncture to save them.


Thomas Fire bear: The first bear rests in her holding enclosure after her treatment is finished. The outer wrapping on her feet (made of corn husks) will delay her efforts to chew off the tilapia skin bandages underneath. (CA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Two bears that were badly burned in last month’s Southern California wildfires are back in the wild after doctors used alternative treatments including acupuncture to save them.

Rescuers brought the bears and a 5-month-old mountain lion to vets with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the University of California, Davis.

Vet Jamie Peyton says she and colleagues stitched tilapia fish skins on the animals’ feet to soothe the burns. Doctors commonly use pig and human grafts on burned people.

Thomas Fire bear: The tilapia skin is visible on the bottom of the bear’s burned paw. (CA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife)

Peyton says the bears soon were up and walking around in their bandages.

Vets also used acupuncture and other alternative treatments — after the animals were sedated.

The bears were released last week into Los Padres National Forest. The mountain lion will be released this week.

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