Black Bear cub #23-0829

April 27, 2023
Rescue Location
Tazewell County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Current Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

In the early afternoon on April 27, a railway conductor in Tazewell County saw a young bear cub near the bodies of a deceased sow and cub that had likely been hit by a train. Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources staff were alerted, and the cub was safely captured in a nearby creek after running away during the rescue attempt. The cub was transported to the Wildlife Center of Virginia later that same day.

On admission, the female cub was bright, alert, and mildly dehydrated with a body condition score of 2.5/5. Upon intake, she weighed 3.68 kg. A physical examination performed by Veterinary Intern Dr. Marit found a callused area over the bear’s left hind femur but did not reveal any other abnormalities. Radiographs showed a mildly displaced mid-shaft fracture on the left femur, and images confirmed callusing of the fracture. This callus, combined with observed mobility during rescue, suggests that the fracture is likely more than two weeks old, and was not sustained during the bear family’s train collision.

Skin scrapes show no signs of mites, and blood was drawn for a full analysis. In-house testing revealed a subclinical level of lead toxicosis (0.054 ppm) – a condition not commonly seen in Black Bear patients at the Center. While this level is considered to be relatively low, no amount of lead within the body is safe. Fluids, anti-parasitic, and pain medications were administered, and an oral chelation therapy course was started to remove the lead from the cub’s system.

For now, the cub will be cage-rested in the LMI enclosure chute with a Zinger crate. During the coming days, veterinary staff plan to perform additional physical exams and radiographs to assess her ability to use her left hind leg, and determine if surgical intervention is necessary.

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Patient Updates

The Black Bear cubs of 2023 have been doing well during the past week. Black Bear #23-0529 [one ear] continues to be one of the more active cubs, and is very vocal throughout the day. She is eating well and gaining weight — on May 8, she weighed in at 3.65 kg. Rehabilitation staff have transitioned to bottle feeding her twice per day while still offering mush bowls and juvenile bear meals twice per day. On May 3, she was transitioned into the full LMI 1 enclosure.

Black Bear cub #23-0681’s umbilicus wound has been healing excellently during the past week, and is nearly closed. A new abscess was observed on her hip, but the veterinary staff note it appears healthy and is not concerning at this time. Most recently, the cub weighed in at 3.01 kg, more than double what she weighed upon intake. Rehabilitation staff are now offering her bottles, mush bowls, and juvenile bear meals two times per day. For now, the cub will remain separated in a large Zinger crate placed inside LMI 1 – where she can see and interact with Black Bear cub #23-0529 — until her wound is completely healed.

The most-recently admitted cub, Black Bear cub #23-0829, is also doing well. She is up to 5.2 kg, and is offered mush bowls once per day in addition to juvenile bear meals twice per day. During daily feedings and care sessions, rehabilitation staff report she is very eager to run and climb within the LMI enclosure chute, and has been using and placing more weight on her left hind leg each day. With these observations in mind, Dr. Karra performed an in-depth physical exam during the past week, and determined that surgical intervention is not needed – for now, staff plan to let the fractured bone heal on its own. Depending on the results of repeat radiographs scheduled for May 11, she may be able to join Black Bear cub #23-0529 freely in LMI 1 following several more days of cage rest.