2017 Year in Review: Dr. Monica Madera, Veterinary Intern

It’s time to look back on 2017! Check our blog between Christmas and New Year’s for a variety of stories and memories of 2017 from the staff and volunteers of the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

The first time I arrived at the Wildlife Center of Virginia was the summer of 2013 as a rehabilitation extern. One of my fondest memories of that time was also one of the first memories I made that stuck with me. I had the ability to work directly with the bear cubs the Center had admitted that summer. It was my absolute favorite moment to be in a den with a bunch of baby Black Bears, watching them explore and play with each other. It was then I realized how much I truly enjoyed working with these animals and I was overly excited to have the opportunity to continue working with them.

That brings me to my best memory of 2017, now that I’ve returned to the Wildlife Center of Virginia as the veterinary intern. When I started, I was extremely excited to have the opportunity to work with the Black Bears of 2017, and to potentially have the opportunity to admit one as a patient. Only a month after starting my internship, I received a call about an injured baby Black Bear. You can imagine my excitement to receive this call! I was going to be able to personally treat my first baby Black Bear patient. But, I wasn’t quite expecting how intimidated I felt at this prospect. I had worked with other healthy Black Bear cubs, but I was nervous about the state this Black Bear was going to be in when it arrived at the Center.

When #17-2035 arrived to the Center, it took all I had not to squeal out loud. He was the cutest bear cub I’d seen, and I quickly noticed he was also terrified and in pain from a broken arm. I quickly reined myself in and got to work. I only wish this scared little cub could realize my intentions. In my head, I thought “I’m gonna help you, little guy, don’t worry, you’ll be fine, I got you”. I was so proud to be working with this animal. He was stable when he first came in, and I anesthetized him to do a full physical examination. He had a broken right arm and cut on his left arm as well as a broken jaw. This little bear really tested all of my skills as a veterinarian, I had to utilize many of my diagnostic, surgical, and treatment skills. I was happy to get him bandaged and comfortable until we could get his arm fixed.


Every day I worked with this bear, he started acting more and more like a wild bear cub, which was a delight! I was with him every step of the way, up to and including his surgery. He did extremely well post-operatively and eventually was able to be moved out to the bear yards with all of the other 2017 bear cubs. That was one of the most satisfying days I experienced at the Wildlife Center. Seeing my first bear cub, one of my first patients since starting my internship, do so well is the essence of why I am doing what I am doing. It is my goal to see my patients eventually released, and #17-2035 is on his way there right now. It means a great deal to me to be a part of that.

This bear cub’s case will always stick with me because of the new experience and the work I put into it. I feel so privileged to have had the ability to put all of my veterinary education to use in caring for #17-2035. This bear cub is a reminder of what I am capable of, and I am extremely grateful for that.

--Dr. Monica

Check out all of our year-in-review posts!