Black Bear cub #17-1180

Admission Date: 
May 28, 2017
Location of Rescue: 
Lexington, Virginia
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Orphaned or separated from mother; wound on paw; neuro
Euthanized due to chronic neurologic issues
Patient Status: 
Patient Archive

On May 28, a citizen in Lexington, Virginia, saw a young black bear cub by the side of the road. The bear was alone, and appeared to have an injured front paw.

Dr. Peach, one of the Center's veterinarians, examined the cub when it arrived. The male cub was bright and alert, but appeared as though he had not been in the care of his mother; the bear was thin and covered in cockleburs. Dr. Peach found a small laceration on the paw pad of the cub's right front paw; there was also some intermittent crepitus (crackling) in the bear's wrist when it was manipulated. No significant injuries were found on radiographs, and skin scrapings were negative for mites. The cub weighed 4.20 kg.

Dr. Peach gave the bear subcutaneous fluids and removed most of the cockleburs. The bear was tagged with a pink identification tag in each ear and was set up in a zinger crate in the Center's holding room. The veterinary team will monitor the bear's paw injury during the next couple of days; if all is well, the cub will be introduced to the Center's other eight cubs in the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure.

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 12, 2017

A necropsy on Black Bear cub #17-1180, conducted by an outside laboratory, confirmed that the cub had cerebellar hypoplasia, a neurological condition in which the part of the brain that coordinates muscular activity is smaller than usual or not completely developed. This explains the consistent neurologic symptoms the Wildlife Center staff noted. This issue can be congenital or viral; in this bear’s case, results did not indicate which caused the condition. 

August 25, 2017

Last week, the Wildlife Center team was able to take Black Bear cub #17-1180 off-site for a CT scan. The procedure went quickly, and the images were sent to veterinary radiologists for interpretation. The radiologists found that while the brain and spine appeared to be within normal limits, the cub’s lungs were not normal. There are a variety of infectious diseases that could affect a cub’s lungs and also cause neurologic symptoms, though at this point, the damage is irreversible.

After much discussion, the veterinary team made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize the bear cub. The cub’s intermittent neurologic signs have been persistent since admission, which makes the bear non-releasable and not suitable for placement. A necropsy will be performed by an outside laboratory.

August 11, 2017

While Black Bear cub #17-1180 has been generally stable during the past week, he continues to have unresolved neurological episodes. The test results for Baylis ascaris came back negative. Dr. Ernesto decided that the next step for this cub is a CT scan; this could help the team determine if the cub has a congenital brain defect. The team are working with an outside facility to schedule a CT scan during the week of August 14.

August 3, 2017

Black Bear cub #17-1180 has been in the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure during the past week; the bear is eating well but the staff have continued to observe the intermittent neurologic issues. Some test results came back this week: the cub’s bile acids test (for liver issues) was within normal limits, and the cub is also negative for distemper and parvovirus. Test results for Baylisascaris have not yet come back.

July 27, 2017

The veterinary team has continued to note intermittent neurologic symptoms in Black Bear cub #17-1180 during the past week. On July 27, the veterinary team will be drawing several blood samples from the cub – one after fasting, then another sample after the bear eats. These samples will be sent to an outside laboratory for bile acid tests. After all the samples are drawn today, the cub will be moved back to the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure for observation.

If test results are within normal limits, the veterinary team will continue to explore additional diagnostic tests to see if the cause of the neurologic symptoms can be found.

July 19, 2017

Results from Black Bear #17-1180’s fructosamine test came back on Tuesday afternoon. Dr. Ernesto reports that the bear’s glucose levels are normal, which confirms the more simple in-house lab tests. The bear’s bile acid levels are high, which can be an indication of liver disease. The bear was not fasted prior to this test, which can also affect results. The team will draw more blood samples this week after the bear is fasted and another sample after the bear is fed; these samples should yield additional diagnostic information.

The cub continues to remain in the Center’s holding room for observation.

July 17, 2017

On Friday, July 14, the veterinary team decided to perform a physical examination on Black Bear cub #17-1180 [Double Pink Tags]. The rehabilitation staff had noted some intermittent ataxia [incoordination] recently, which is not a new symptom for this cub. Days after admission in May, the bear exhibited the same intermittent unsteadiness before he was moved in with the other bear cubs. The veterinary team never found a cause for the neurologic issues, but it appears as though the symptoms periodically have resurfaced during the past month.

During Friday’s physical exam, blood was taken for several in-house diagnostics, including a complete blood count, glucose test, and chemistry panel; blood will also be sent out on July 17 for a specialized fructosamine test, which offers a better idea of glucose levels. In-house diagnostics were within normal limits. Radiographs showed a mildly increased soft tissue opacity in the chest, but no associated lung issues were noted on physical exam.

The staff decided to keep the bear in a zinger crate in the Center’s holding room for additional observation, at least until the outside laboratory tests come back with additional information. It’s unclear at this point why the symptoms keep occurring, but could be due to an underlying hepatic issue associated with a congenital condition.

June 1, 2017

Earlier this week, Black Bear cub #17-1180 was moved to the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure. The rehab team moved the other eight cubs to one side of the enclosure; cub #17-1180 was placed on the other side for additional monitoring. The cub was fairly quiet, but on May 31, appeared to be too quiet; the team decided to bring the cub into the hospital for an exam.

Blood was drawn and a quick series of radiographs were taken. Dr. Peach found that the cub is slightly anemic, though otherwise appears to be within normal limits. Dr. Peach gave the cub subcutaneous fluids and set him up in the holding room; the cub will remain inside for a few days to get additional fluids. The cub is eating well, and may just need additional time to eat and regain strength.