2017 Year in Review: Randy Huwa, Executive Vice President

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.

For me, 2017 didn’t really start with a bang … more with a “thud”.  As I was getting up from sitting on the floor during a New Year’s Day meditation session, I slipped and fell.  Much to the surprise of the responding EMTs, and much to the surprise of the medical staff in the emergency room, and much to MY surprise – I had broken my femur.  Yes, I had broken the longest, heaviest, strongest bone in my body. 

Fortunately, it was a ‘clean’ break … the fracture was pinned by a surgeon on January 2.  I was home on January 4.  I got around with a walker. Then a cane.  And now … I’m good as new.

I’m thankful for good health insurance provided by the Wildlife Center and for accumulated sick leave.  I’m grateful for the support of colleagues who pitched in and helped out … and for Ed for arranging for a laptop computer that I could use during my convalescence.  I’m grateful for the notes and emails and cards and gifts that cheered me.  AND … I’m grateful for Jackie, who saw me through ALL of it.

Through this process, I’ve gained a new appreciation for medical professionals.  I’m grateful for the skill of surgeon Dr. Allen and the caring and tough-love and motivational skills of physical therapists Bronson and Martine.  I have a new appreciation for handicapped parking spaces and curb cuts and ramps.  And, I have a softened heart for those folks who have to deal with chronic issues of mobility and pain.

And … I have a new kinship for some of the Center’s patients that came in this year with their OWN leg issues.

Black Bear #17-2035 This bear cub was found on August 5 under a bridge beside a road in Roanoke County and admitted to the Center on August 6. Radiographs confirmed a complete fracture of the bear’s right humerus. This cub was featured in Dr. Monica's year-end post too.

Given the complexity of the leg fracture, our vets decided to take this cub to a specialist, and they enlisted the help of Dr. Alex Padron of Virginia Veterinary Surgical Associates in Richmond [Dr. Padron has become our go-to guy in these cases, and we’re VERY grateful for his help.]  Drs. Alexa and Monica took #17-2035 to Richmond on August 11.  Dr. Padron inserted two pins into the bear’s fractured humerus [I have two pins, too, by the way] before inserting a plate over the fracture site [no plate for me].   

The cub did well and was slowly moved into larger and larger enclosures – giving him the chance to work his leg.  By October 20 the vets determined that the bear had regained full use of his leg and the cub, now sporting two yellow ear tags, joined nine other cubs in Bear Yard #1. 

#17-2035 and the rest of the cubs are expected to be with us until April-ish of 2018, when they will be released.

Fowler’s Toad #17-2192.  This adult toad was admitted on August 23 – she had been accidentally stepped on, and the toad’s left femur had been dislocated from the pelvic joint.  The toad had physical daily physical therapy for four weeks – yes, p.t. for a toad.  Muscles were strengthened, and normal range of motion returned. 

On September 25, the toad was released.

Full disclosure:  Okay, I have never even heard of a Fowler’s Toad.  According to Wikipedia, the Fowler’s Toad was named in honor of Massachusetts naturalist Samuel Page Fowler [1800 – 1888], the founder of the Essex County Natural History Society.  It was previously considered a subspecies of the Woodhouse’s Toad [that’s not particularly helpful, I know].  According to Wikipedia, “The male produces a call which attracts not only females, but also other males.  The calling male may attempt to mate with one of the other males, which will then produce a chirping ‘release call’, informing him of his mistake.”

Bobcat #17-2495.  On September 30, a juvenile female Bobcat has hit by a vehicle while crossing Route 33 in Rockingham County.  The Bobcat was admitted to the Center; radiographs found that the cat had a nasty fracture of the right femur [same femur as me!]  There also was concern that the Bobcat could not see, which can happen in severe head trauma cases. 

On October 4, Dr. Ernesto took the Bobcat into surgery. He was able to pin the fractured femur and placed two wires in the cat’s leg to keep the bone in the correct position.

On October 10, Dr. Ernesto confirmed that the Bobcat could see – she easily tracked his movements when he caught her for morning treatments.

Radiographs on October 13 – news was not so good.  The pin had slipped out of one portion of the fractured bone.  On October 16, Dr. Ernesto took #17-2495 back into surgery to replace the pin.  He was able to remove the first pin … but he was not able to put in a replacement, as there was a large amount of new callus already present over the bone fragments.  Dr. Ernesto made the call to close the incision and to allow the fracture to continue to heal, hoping that the wires in the leg would provide enough stabilization.

The Bobcat spent some time in a smaller Zinger crate and, on October 21, was moved to a small space in the Center’s outdoor Large Mammal Isolation enclosure. 

November 27 was the day of reckoning – six weeks after the first surgery, the Bobcat was sedated for follow-up radiographs [please note that I was not sedated for my follow-up radiographs].  Success!  The fracture had healed up nicely; the right femur is a little shorter than the left, but it does not seem to have affected the Bobcat’s mobility. 

This bobcat patient will be with us until Spring.  For now, she has access to the full Large Mammal Enclosure. 

She can occasionally be seen on Cam #3 of the Center’s Critter Cam. She exhibits “cat” behaviors that are familiar to anyone who has a domestic house-cat – grooming, napping in the sunshine, tossing food playfully up into the air, the occasional bout of “cat crazy”.  She also has a fascination with boxes – just like the cats in our household.

The Center was able to provide quality veterinary care for these patients – and for more than 2,700 other patients – through the generous support of a network of kind and caring individuals.  These animals didn’t have health insurance – they had you.  On behalf of these “leg cases” – and on behalf of the rest of the sick, injured, and orphaned animals we treat – thank you. 


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