We hear a lot about people with rare conditions that shape their appearance in a way that makes them look drastically different to the average human being.

Often these people will have some sort of tumor growth causing severe disfigurement on their bodies and the sheer extremity of their disfigurements can make for uncomfortable viewing. It’s extremely upsetting for the individual and their loved ones, but thankfully modern medicine has come a long way to treat many disfiguring conditions.

However, animals are also not immune to falling ill with conditions that give them an unusual appearance.

In fact, one bear’s tongue had swelled so considerably that it peaked to the size of a soccer ball.

The bear had no choice but to undergo surgery in order to tame the condition, otherwise it would have eventually led to his death.

The Burmese bear, named Nyan Htoo, was suffering from a rare condition which caused his tongue to grow to the extent that it could no longer fit in his mouth.

Thankfully, vets from the UK have saved the bear from an early death after operating on the creature.

When Nyan Htoo was a cub, monks saved the seriously ill bear, alongside his brother, from being sold illegally in China.

Not long after the two bears were rescued by the monks, it emerged that one of them was suffering from an unidentifiable illness which led to his tongue increasing drastically in size.

Although it is not yet conclusive, it is believed that the swelling could have been a symptom of the condition, elephantiasis. Elephantiasis is usually brought on by a serious mosquito bite infection or by parasitic worms known as filarial worms.

However, while the disease is common in the people of Burma, this is the first time, on record, that is has been found in a bear.

The condition had caused a serious disruption to Nyan Htoo’s ability to engage in any form of activity, and severely lowered his quality of life.

In fact, at its peak size, it became so big that wherever he went, he was forced to drag his tongue on the floor with him.

He was also unintentionally injuring his colossal tongue with his teeth and would lean his head against his cage bars to support the sheer weight of the tongue.

The condition had also come in the way of the otherwise energetic bear’s ability to play around boisterously with his brother.

A team of veterinary experts including television personality, Romain Pizzi, and animal welfare expert and veterinary surgeon Heather Bacon flew to Burma, to work with vets in the area while they amputated the bear’s huge tongue.

The team were extremely dedicated to helping solve the bear’s plight, and fortunately ended up being the very best people for the job.

Seven pounds of tissue was removed during the four-hour procedure. It ultimately ended up not only saving his life but improving its quality.

What this bear was forced to endure at a very young age is absolutely heartbreaking. Fortunately, he is reportedly making a good recovery and is expected to be able to live an ordinary bear’s life once he has fully healed.