Black Bear cub #18-2926

Admission Date: 
October 15, 2018
Location of Rescue: 
Botetourt County
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Hit by car
Patient Status: 
Current Patient

On October 14, a female Black Bear cub was found on the side of the road in Botetourt County, likely after being hit by a car. The cub was brought to a nearby wildlife rehabilitation center for stabilization before she could be transferred to the Wildlife Center the next morning.

During the initial examination, Dr. Karra identified abrasions on cub #18-2926’s head and jaw, along with a laceration on the right front leg and instability in the elbow joint. Radiographs revealed a displaced fracture in the right elbow. The cub was otherwise in decent body condition, and the injuries are consistent with physical trauma, like being hit by a car.

The elbow fracture is severe and in a challenging and potentially problematic location; the fracture involves the joint as well as the cub’s growth plates, and surgical repair could be difficult. Even with a surgical repair, the cub could have reduced range of motion and could face arthritis in the future.

The Center’s veterinary team consulted with a board-certified surgeon, Dr. Alex Padron of Virginia Veterinary Surgical Associates, who has assisted the Center by performing several challenging surgical repairs on bears in the past two years.  

Dr. Padron believes there is a good prognosis for the joint if he can get appropriate reduction during surgery. If there isn’t too much swelling or muscle and tendon contracture around the fracture, and if Dr. Padron is able to get the fracture into an anatomically correct place, the elbow should have normal function following recovery. Dr. Padron has agreed to perform surgery on the cub on Friday, October 19.

The Center’s veterinary team splinted the fractured forelimb, cleaned the wounds, and administered antibiotics and pain medication. The cub did not eat during her first night in the clinic, likely due to stress from her trauma and rescue. The staff will monitor her appetite in the coming days.

Your donation will help provide veterinary medical care to this injured Black Bear cub -- and more than 3,000 patients admitted this year. Please help!

Updates

December 4, 2018

On Friday, November 30, Black Bear cub #18-2926 was anesthetized for radiographs to check on the healing progress of the bear’s fractured elbow. The cub has not been walking properly on his front limb, and based on observation, appeared to have a limited range of motion.

When the cub was fully sedated, Dr. Ernesto was able to see that the intramedullary (IM) pin that was initially inserted into the bear’s fractured bone had migrated – which sometimes happens after surgery. Dr. Ernesto estimated that the bear’s right elbow had about 85% extension and limited rotation. Radiographs confirmed that the fractured joint had not healed in an ideal position. Dr. Ernesto removed the IM pin and tagged the bear for identification – a pink tag in the right ear, and an orange in the left.

The bear recovered from anesthesia and was placed in the Large Mammal enclosure with Black Bear cub #18-2921 – the cub that has been recovering from a jaw fracture.

Dr. Ernesto reached out to Dr. Padron, who surgically repaired the bear in October. Dr. Padron recommended allowing the bear to walk around in the larger space in the Large Mammal enclosure for the next week, and to carefully observe if the bear’s gait and range of motion improve at all. If no, Dr. Padron recommends removing the screw at the bear’s surgical site. If Dr. Ernesto needs to go to surgery to remove the screw, the bear will once again need to be placed on cage rest for four weeks.

So far, the two cubs are wary of one another but are getting along.

October 26, 2018

On October 25, Black Bear cub #18-2926 was shifted from a zinger crate to the connecting chute in the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure. Rehabilitation staff report that the cub is eating well and able to move around the limited space, but she does not appear to be placing full weight on her recently-repaired right forelimb.

The cub will remain in the connecting chute of the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure for another six to eight weeks while staff continue to monitor the bear’s progress.

October 22, 2018

Black Bear cub #18-2926 recovered from Friday’s surgery well. The bear is eating well and getting to see and smell her neighbor, bear cub #18-2921.

Cub #18-2926 will need to be cage-rested for eight weeks to fully allow her fracture to heal. At that point, the veterinary team will take radiographs to check on the bear’s elbow. She’s currently on a course of antibiotics to treat an open wound over the fracture.

October 19, 2018

Dr. Karra and veterinary technician intern Jess took Black Bear cub #18-2926 to Virginia Veterinary Surgical Associates on the morning of October 19 for surgery. Dr. Padron was able to successfully stabilize the bear’s fractured elbow; he was pleased with the outcome and the bear recovered well from anesthesia.

The bear will be placed in the small connecting chute between the two halves of the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure; this will give the bear limited space so that her elbow can heal in the coming weeks.