2013 Year in Review: Dr. Rich Sim, Veterinary Fellow

It’s time to look back on 2013! Check our blog between Christmas and New Year’s for a variety of stories and memories of 2013 from the staff, students, and volunteers of the Wildlife Center.

Eighteen months have passed since I started at the Wildlife Center, and the time continues to go quickly. Thank you to our online community and everyone who has helped us work with all the animals we treat. The care of these animals would be a lot less fun without all my co-workers at WCV, so thank you to them. For me, and probably for many of you who support WCV, 2013 is the year of the bear. American Black Bear cubs and yearlings have been nearly constant patients of ours throughout the year and they have dominated the conversation about how WCV should partner with VDGIF to help this species.

With a record-number 17 bear cubs in our care by the end of the year, we have had to quickly incorporate new strategies and facilities for rehabilitation of this species. With many of them arriving last spring, our front-desk personnel, Leighann Cline and Kate Guenther, not only had to coordinate the cub arrivals during an already hectic season, but also approached the task with smiles and patience as they do so for so many of their duties. Our rehabilitation staff -- Amber Dedrick, Kelli Knight, Niki Dean, Kelsey Pleasants, Jessica Roberts, and Leighann Cline -- ensured that the cubs got started with proper nutrition and have had to bear (ha!) the brunt of the cubs’ day-to-day needs as they quickly eat their way through nearly $200 of groceries per day.

Our new bear complex was constructed this year and has required the efforts of our entire staff to ensure its successful completion. Ed Clark, Randy Huwa, and Dr. Dave McRuer have devoted countless hours to steering its planning and implementation. Our development department -- Kelly Matherly, Lacy Kegley, and Kristen Sluiter -- ensured that there was the financing to see the project from the start to its end. Elizabeth Brooks, our office manager, does everything behind the scenes to make sure the Center continues to work day-to-day. Our outreach department, led by Amanda Nicholson and staffed by Raina Krasner and Chapin Hardy, has kept the world abreast of the bear complex’s development and spinning tales of the animals that would ultimately fill it.

The veterinary staff has veterinary medicine students and volunteers at its foundation. There are too many vet and vet tech students to thank individually, but I hope you all learned as much from me as I learned from you, and thank you. Thank you to all the devoted treatment team volunteers -- Deb Bailey, Bob Post, Jackie Sheets, Kim Beard, Charlotta Wriston, Megan McMenamin, Mackenzie Long, Sandy Gallimore, Cindy Ventrillo, Megan Anderson, and Melissa Dudek -- who enable us to get so much done for the animals. In addition to these students and volunteers, I would like to thank my veterinary interns, Drs. Dana Tedesco and Kristin Britton, for their patience as I have tried to impart some knowledge upon them. Thank you to my diagnostic interns, Julia Jones, Katie White, and Kelli Waller for all your hard work and help. Thank you to Leigh-Ann Horne, the Center’s staff veterinary technician, for helping me to be the doctor that I am today.

Last but not least, thank you bears. The bears that taught me the most are: #12-2655 (who was my first Christmas gift of 2012 and thrived in 2013), #13-0420 (who taught me that sometimes even a small tooth issue can be a big deal and it can yield great dividends to follow one’s instincts about pursuing an intervention), and #13-2454 (who we could not save despite great efforts).

Thank you to everyone with whom I work and to all who support us at WCV. Happy New Year.

--Dr. Rich

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

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