Black Bear cub #16-2023

Species Name (EN): 
Species Name (LA): 
Admission Date: 
September 4, 2016
Location of Rescue: 
Rockingham County, VA
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Hit by vehicle
Euthanized October 27, 2016
Patient Status: 
Patient Archive

On September 4, a Black Bear cub was found by the side of the road in Rockingham County, Virginia. Rescuers called the local sheriff's department, and the bear was easily captured and transported to the Wildlife Center.

Dr. Ernesto, one of the Center's veterinary interns, examined the cub when it arrived. The female bear cub was thin and fairly calm; a physical examination and radiographs revealed an elbow fracture of the left forelimb and an open femur fracture of the left hind limb. Dr. Ernesto carefully cleaned the cub's open wound, and splinted and bandaged both leg fractures. An IV catheter was placed to deliver fluids to the cub; the bear was also given pain medication, anti-inflammatories, and antibiotics. While the cub was not showing signs of respiratory distress, Dr. Ernesto decided to offer supplemental oxygen, knowing that such severe trauma could have caused bruising to the bear's lungs.

The bear will require surgery for both leg fractures; the left forelimb fracture is particularly tricky, and is similar to the fracture Black Bear cub #16-1713 sustained this summer. Due to the nature of the fracture and proximity to the joint, a similar cross-pinning technique will need to be applied to successfully treat the bear's fracture. The Wildlife Center will be reaching out to the Virginia Veterinary Surgical Associates again to determine if they are willing to perform this procedure again, and to determine what the cost would be. While Dr. Ernesto can pin the bear's fractured hind limb, it makes more sense to fix both fractures in the same surgery, rather than subjecting the bear to two different procedures.


The prognosis for the bear is guarded due to the nature of the two fractures. Since both fractures affect the same side of the bear's body, long-term healing will be difficult.

Your special donation will help the Center to provide care to this young Black Bear cub ... and to the 2,500 sick, injured, and orphaned wild animals the Center will treat this year.


October 28, 2016

On October 27, Dr. Peach darted and anesthetized Black Bear cub #16-2023 for additional radiographs. Two weeks ago, the bear's fractured femur was not showing signs of healing well; the veterinary team decided to give the bear additional time in a confined space.

Sadly, Dr. Peach once again saw that the cub's femur was not healing. It's likely that even in the confined space, the bear was moving the injured leg too much for adequate healing. Confining wild animals in an extremely limited space can be quite challenging. Not only was the fracture not healing well, but the bone ends were malaligned, and according to Dr. Dave, there was a lot of "reaction" on the bone ends -- meaning that the health of the bone was compromised. Given the poor prognosis, the team made the difficult decision to euthanize the bear.

October 20, 2016

On October 14, Dr. Peach darted and anesthetized Black Bear cub #16-2023 for a series of radiographs to check on how the bear's broken limbs were healing. Dr. Peach was dismayed to find that the bear's broken femur was not healing well; there was little evidence of the bones bridging and callusing over the fracture, despite the presence of the plate on the fractured bone. The bear's elbow -- the initial primary concern -- is healing well, despite the prolonged surgery and high risk of damaged growth plates.


Drs. Peach, Ernesto, and Dave conferred with Dr. Padron at the Virginia Veterinary Surgical Associates, who in turn conferred with his colleagues. Since the bear is standing and walking in her limited space with no known issues, Dr. Padron advised giving the bear an additional 15 days, after which additional radiographs should be taken.

The bear was returned to the small space in the Center's Large Mammal Isolation enclosure.

September 21, 2016

Black Bear cub #16-2023 continues to recover in the limited space connecting the two Large Mammal Isolation enclosures. Since the bear is more easily observed in this space and has a little more room to walk around, the veterinary team have observed that the bear is exhibiting a head-tilt to the right. The cub tends to circle in this direction, though additional observation and testing shows that the cub can easily turn to the left.

At this point, the veterinarians can't say if the head-tilt is due to a permanent neurologic problem, or is a side effect from the fractures in both of the bear's left legs; the bear could be compensating for her healing injuries. The cub will need additional observation during the coming weeks as she completely heals from her surgery.

September 14, 2016

Black Bear cub #16-2023 has been doing well in the week following her surgery. The bear has been restricted to a zinger crate since her surgery, but is standing on all four limbs, and can walk when she is shifted between zinger crates for daily cleaning. The bear is eating well.

On September 15, the bear will be moved to the small connecting chute in the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure. This area will allow the bear to have a little more room, but will still limit her activity during the next five weeks as she heals from her leg fractures.

September 9, 2016

On September 8, Dr. Ernesto took Black Bear cub #16-2023 to Dr. Padron at the Virginia Veterinary Surgical Associates in Midlothian for surgery. The femur fracture was fixed first, using an intramedullary pin, a cerclage wire to hold the pieces of bone together, and a plate with screws to secure everything in place.

After that was done, Dr. Padron turned his attention to the bear's elbow, which was more badly damaged than initial radiographs revealed. Unfortunately, the bones around the elbow were fractured into multiple small pieces, which affected the bear's growth plate. Dr. Padron did his best to stabilize the fracture using a cross-pinning technique, but the bear's long-term prognosis remains guarded. As the fracture heals during the next few weeks, the staff will need to evaluate the bear's gait and climbing ability, particularly as the bear grows in the months ahead.


The bear recovered from surgery and was returned to the Wildlife Center. On the morning of September 9, Dr. Ernesto reported that the bear was doing really well, and was even standing on her newly fixed legs!

September 7, 2016

Black Bear cub #16-2023 has been doing well; while the cub is fairly quiet, she is alert and is eating well. The cub has had no respiratory issues, so the oxygen therapy was discontinued on Monday; the cub continued to do well throughout the day and night.

Dr. Peach reached out to Dr. Padron of Virginia Veterinary Surgical Associates in Richmond to confer on the case. Dr. Padron was actually on vacation when he received Dr. Peach's message, but was quick to write back to gather more information and start making plans! The estimate for the surgery is roughly $1500-$2000; this surgery will be longer and more complicated than the surgery performed on bear cub #16-1713. The surgery will also require more "hardware" for the cub's fractured femur, since Dr. Padron would like to use a plate and screws to repair the fracture.

At this point, surgery is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, September 8.