2015 Year in Review: Dr. Helen Ingraham, Veterinary Fellow

It’s time to look back on 2015! Check our blog between Christmas and New Year’s for a variety of stories and memories of 2015 from the staff and volunteers of the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

Wow. Can’t believe it’s going to be 2016 tomorrow. I really enjoyed 2015 at the Wildlife Center. It’s hard to pick what to talk about since there were so many memorable patients …

Just like most other staff members, I’m a HUGE fan of the black bears. Seriously though, is there ANYTHING cuter than a black bear cub??? In my mind, no! We are very fortunate to be raising seven healthy bear cubs. One of the most rewarding cases of my career has been successfully bringing back Green tag cub (#15-1651) back from the brink of death. She was barely responsive at presentation but within a matter of days she was acting like a normal cub! Check out Dr. Dana’s year-end blog for more on cute little Green tag cub.

Waterbirds rarely get admitted here, but whenever they do, I get super excited. They can be extremely difficult cases to successfully rehabilitate due to their natural history and stress levels, but they are so charismatic! I’ve learned a lot about how to manage these cases and it’s been a fun challenge! The fast-tank pool has been instrumental in these patients’ recovery! I smile every time I see a bird preening, eating, and enjoying the pool on camera. This year was the first time in my career that I’ve ever seen Common Loons in adult breeding plumage (black with white spots and red eyes)! They are extraordinary! I’m still waiting on a Merganser or an adult male Ruddy Duck in breeding plumage to come into the Center (with minor injuries that will be easily treatable of course!).

One of the most exciting surgeries that I performed last year was on an Eastern Ratsnake (#15-2068) that ingested a golf ball. I’ve removed many foreign bodies (many fish hooks) from waterbirds but I had never done that kind of surgery on a reptile before! I still have the golf ball on my desk! I’m very happy to report that snake still continues to do very well. I remember being very excited the first time he ate after his procedure. I was even more thrilled to see him defecate for the first time after his surgery. You know you’re a veterinarian when you get very excited to see that your patients are pooping normally!

Another case that was an amazing learning opportunity was the American Beaver (#15-1914). This young male beaver was likely attacked by another beaver and presented with multiple, deep lacerations on his back. My favorite memory of this case is of our technician Intern Amy drawing a diagram of his wounds at presentation. Let’s just say she should stick to her day job. Anyway, his wounds have fully healed and now he’s spending the winter with us! He is so cute when he hangs out in his pools!

Finally, I must say that I am so fortunate to have spent another year with these amazing patients, our fantastic staff members, and our awesome volunteers. A BIG thank you to all of you who graciously support us. We could not do what we do without your support! Thank you so very much! Here’s to an even better 2016!!!

--Dr. Helen