2012 Year in Review: Julia Jones, Diagnostic Intern

Last year, many of our staff, students, and volunteers recounted their most memorable moments of 2011. We had so much fun reading and sharing these stories, we thought we’d do it again! Check our blog between Christmas and New Year’s for a variety of stories and memories of 2012 from the staff and volunteers of the Wildlife Center.

When the first Black Bear of the year was admitted, 12-0073, little did we know what a trend this would start – as we get ready to end 2012, we have now admitted 17 Black Bears for the year. 

I was pretty excited about this first bear, though, as it was the first one that I had ever been around or been able to work with. This bear was a yearling with an eye injury – after a few physical exams and some consultation with Dr. J. Philip Pickett, a board-certified ophthalmologist at Virginia Tech, we decided that this bear needed surgery to have his right eye removed. 

When surgery day arrived, I was looking forward to working with Dr. Pickett again, as I had worked with him the previous summer on a couple of snakes. Sedating the bear and prepping for surgery all went along uneventfully. I was going to be doing anesthesia on the bear for the surgery and from my end, things were going well. During surgery, there was some bleeding from the eye but Dr. Pickett said that was to be expected and he had the situation under control; I was a little nervous, but ok. A little while later, surgery ended and the bear’s eye had been successfully removed.   I began to wake him up from anesthesia. Dr. Adam, the Center’s veterinary intern at the time, and I were listening to the bear’s heart rate and checking his level of sleepiness in the surgery suite, when all of a sudden the bear wanted to wake up much more quickly than I was expecting!

The bear threw his head back and pulled his endotracheal tube out. At this point Dr. Adam and I attempted to wrestle a partially awake, 35-pound bear off the table and onto the floor. At that moment, the bear’s surgical site started to bleed again, so I was also trying to apply pressure to the site. We yelled for Dr. Miranda and Amanda to come help. Restraining a 35-pound bear is similar to trying to wrestle a toddler with the strength of a grown man. Once Dr. Miranda and Amanda came to our rescue, we found ourselves piled on the bear on the floor. Dr. Adam was sitting across the bear’ back holding down the front paws, I was applying all my body weight to the eye site to stop the bleeding and Dr. Miranda and Amanda were each holding a back leg.


At that point, Dr. Dave came to help with a little bit of sedation for the bear, and of course Davis [the former outreach coordinator] was a really big help during this process by taking pictures of the fiasco. This was not at all the wake-up that I had wanted for the bear, but once sedation hit him and the bleeding had stopped, the bear recovered just fine --  even if my heart rate was double its normal speed!

That bear went on to be one of our many bear success stories of 2012; he was released in mid-May with another bear in western Augusta County.

--Julia Jones

Keep checking the Wildlife Center's blog for more year-end posts this week!

Share This Page