Last week the swan who was shot in Wisconsin was finally ready for release! He needed to get outside so he could stretch and strengthen his healed wing, so he was released at a park preserve that is fenced in (no ground predators can sneak up on him) and supplied with food. We call this a soft release. It gives him time to restrengthen his flight muscles while being protected. Another swan that was with us was also released at the same time.
Archive for the ‘Medical News’ Category
Every year, approximately 20-30 veterinary students have the privilege of gaining hands-on experience in wildlife medicine and rehabilitation through summer internships and 4th-year externships at WRC.
We are very excited that this fall, we co-taught a new 4th-year veterinary student elective course through the University of Minnesota (UMN). The 2-week rotation, titled “Exotic Medicine,” is targeted toward the student who wants to go into private practice (usually small animal), but may see some exotics or a wildlife case here or there. Therefore, they would like to be prepared and have basic knowledge of species recognition, husbandry, first aid/triage and patient stabilization.
Students spend three days a week in the classroom attending lectures and going over cases, and two days a week on field trips, where they spend the day at either WRC, Como Zoo, The Minnesota Zoo, or Minnesota Sealife Aquarium.
While at their rotations, the students gain hands-on exposure to common exotic and wildlife species. Based on feedback from the students, the first year of this rotation was very successful! We will continue to work collaboratively on this course each fall.
Below is a picture of Vet Renee and I with students Erika and Chad, as they examine a Western Painted Turtle.
Recently we admitted a Sedge Wren, a species we haven’t seen at WRC for years! This little bird hit a window; a little rest and some anti-inflammatories did the trick–it was ready to go the next day!
I was able to sneak up on it while it was eating in its enclosure and get this video. It was thrashing the mealworms around to kill them before eating. A very simple but cool bird behavior to see up close.
Sedge Wrens are one of the most nomadic territorial birds in North America, flying around from habitat to habitat. It’s common to see them one year and not see any in the same area the next year. They prefer to live in short grass and sedge marshes. Sadly, their numbers are declining due to habitat loss. Amazingly, it’s estimated by Audubon Minnesota that more than 32% of the global population of Sedge Wrens breed here in Minnesota.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve received our first swan patients of the season! During the summer we typically admit a few cygnets, but adult swans don’t seem to come in until migration starts. Over the winter we’ll see anywhere from a few to as many as 20 adult Trumpeter Swans come into WRC.
The adult (white, left) has a fractured wing due to a gunshot and low-level lead poisoning. The juvenile (grey, right) is thought to have accidentally flown into a building and has bilateral shoulder fractures. Read all about the adult swan’s story in our new Case Studies web page!
Yesterday someone called the Center with an odd situation: He had just seen two juvenile hummingbirds fledge out of the nest, however, they couldn’t fly because they were attached.
The mother hummingbird was flying around frantically while we had the man try to describe to us over the phone how they were attached. Conjoined twins don’t happen in the bird world as both chicks would have to develop in the same egg. When it wasn’t clear how they were attached, we had the caller bring them in.
When the birds arrived, we immediately anesthetized with gas anesthesia and began trying to separate the birds, which appeared to be attached around their legs. (See the pictures of before and after separation.)
It turns out, their legs were tangled in some nest materials that had knotted. After they both woke up, we were able to send them back to be reunited with their mother!
Note the fine material joining their legs:
All set to fly!
Being a non-profit, we typically do not pursue expensive and invasive procedures due to the price relative to the prognosis.
For instance, we receive many, many animals who have spinal trauma. Diagnosing the specifics of a spinal trauma would involve expensive imaging (myelogram, MRI or CT) and to treat could involve invasive, risky surgery (laminectomy, pins, etc). The total cost of this is easily >$6000; the prognosis for return to the wild in the case of an animal who needed surgery would be poor.
Does it make financial sense to spend $6,000 on one animal who likely won’t be released, when we could put that money toward rehabbing several hundred other animals who have better prognoses? And more importantly, does it make sense to put an animal with such a poor prognosis through a very painful and invasive procedure, when it will likely be euthanized?
These are questions we ask ourselves every day.
Luckily, some cases are a bit easier to manage, due in large part to specialists who volunteer their time.
Recently, we had a Red Fox kit with a broken leg (femur). This fracture would not heal with a splint or cast, and needed surgery to be fixed. I am not a trained orthopedic surgeon, so if I were to do the surgery, the prognosis wouldn’t be very good.
Luckily, two surgery residents from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine volunteered their time to come and do the surgery. The fox recovered beautifully from the surgery and will be ready to be released soon. In the photo at the top of this post, the surgeons have completed their work and are fitting a crossbar to help stabilize the leg while it heals.
Thanks so much to Dr. Duane Robinson and Dr. Jeff Biskup for their time and expertise, and to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center for their support!
Great Blue Herons raise their young in the top of large trees, usually in groups of 50+ nests called a rookery. A rookery containing approximately 100 nests (as surveyed by the MN DNR) was destroyed by the violent storms in the Metro area this weekend. The heron chicks shown above will be cared for by our Avian Nursery staff, and will hopefully be fledged and ready for release in a few weeks. Younger heron chicks will be with us longer.
As rescuers locate orphaned and injured birds, they bring them to WRC for medical care. We’ve admitted nearly a dozen herons today, not to mention lots of orphaned songbirds.
The birds have been admitted with a wide range of injuries: broken wings, broken legs and various other stress-related issues.
We’re very fortunate to have a med staff of five (includes two DVMs and three CVTs) as well as several vet interns and vet tech externs. In fact, one of our vets, Leslie, has gone through emergency preparedness training and is on a committee of Twin City area professionals trained specifically for this type of situation. We’re thankful to the DNR, USFWS and the park staff for so quickly organizing everything and transporting the birds to our Center (we can’t pick up injured wildlife).
We’ll keep you posted on how the herons are doing, but please keep in mind that there were lots of other animals affected by the storms all throughout the Twin Cities.
If you’re interested in helping us in what is developing as a very busy season, we need your help in our Avian Nursery. The commitment is seasonal – only through mid-September. You can read more about it here and even apply online.
If you’d like to help support the care of all these animals, you can sponsor an adult bird or an Avian Nursery patient on our secure donation page.
Last week we admitted a Tricolored Bat (aka Eastern Pipistrelle). It is a species of special concern in Minnesota, and we haven’t admitted one to WRC for at least the last eight years! In fact, there is no record of anyone finding any maternal colony or large number of this species in one place–just a few individual sightings of this bat every few years…
The Tricolored Bat is the smallest of all Minnesota bat species–the male we admitted (pictured) weighed only 4 grams–that’s the same as a teaspoon of sugar!
This little guy became stunned when he got caught up in a power-washer spray. He recovered quickly and was released the next day.
Our thanks to photographer Stan Tekiela for taking this great photo of the bat.
You can read more about the Tricolored Bat at the Minnesota DNR website.
Despite the cold weather, birds are migrating back to Minnesota in flocks! Which means they are also hitting windows.
Many of our patients, such as the Nashville Warbler (above) and Yellow-Rumped Warbler (below) have hit windows and become stunned. Usually, with some anti-inflammatory medications and cage rest, they are ready to go in a day or two!
If you have a bird hit your window and it appears stunned, place it in a box (with airholes punched in it) and keep it in a dark, quiet place for an hour or two. If the bird flies away when you check on it-great! If it still appears stunned, bring it on in to us! Note that this will save you an unnecessary trip to the Center while reducing stress for the bird. And, sometimes birds die very shortly after hitting a window. If the bird has died while in the box, there is nothing we could have done to help it, so again – you’ve saved a drive and still done everything possible to help the bird.
To prevent future birds from hitting your window, consider putting up some window clings or simply taping a piece of newspaper to the window–these will allow the birds to “see” the window and avoid it.
We received a very exciting piece of news: Our Executive Director Phil Jenni has received the 2011 UMN College of Veterinary Medicine’s Outstanding Service Award.
The award recognizes “individuals from the community for their accomplishments, service and contributions to veterinary medicine.”
Specifically, Phil is being honored for providing leadership that, in the UMN College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Trevor Ames’ words: “has enhanced the wonderful work of the Center and its national reputation” while “strengthening the collaboration between the Center and the College.”
The ceremony will be Friday, April 15th at the UMN.