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Pets and Vets: Grizzly with broken elbows treated at CSU veterinary hospital

Rescued bear had been kept at roadside attraction in Georgia where it sustained bilateral injuries.
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Apr 01, 2014
By dvm360.com staff

The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colo., has rescued Marley and 16 other bears from a foreclosed bear park in northern Georgia, where the animals were kept in small concrete pits and fed apples and bread by tourists as a roadside attraction, according to a release from Colorado State University (CSU). The rescued bears were released into 15-acre natural habitats northeast of Denver, but keepers noticed that a 7-year-old female would not put weight on one of her front legs.


Marley, a 7-year-old grizzly bear, is treated at Colorado State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital for injuries to her elbows. (PHOTO COURTESY OF COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY)
The 300-pound grizzly made the trip to CSU's Veterinary Teaching Hospital crated and anesthetized. After examining radiographs, veterinarians determined that Marley had two forelimb fractures estimated to be more than a month old and one break was badly infected.

"Our main concern is the infected fracture on the left forearm," says Terry Campbell, DVM, PhD, a CSU veterinarian specializing in wildlife and exotic animals, in the February release. "A draining, open fracture on a bear is anything but ideal, and we will need to surgically treat it immediately."

Campbell knew the procedure would require an orthopedic surgeon but decided that the skills of both a small and large animal orthopedic surgeon would be of most benefit to Marley.

Felix Duerr, MS, MedVet, DECVS, DACVS, DACVSMR, small animal orthopedic surgeon, and Jeremiah Easley, DVM, DACVS, equine orthopedic surgeon, performed the surgery together. For the infected forelimb, the veterinarians cleaned the infection, looked for necrotic bone, cleared scar tissue and inserted antibiotic beads to promote full healing. Duerr then performed shockwave therapy to accelerate healing. Two veterinary anesthesiologists were also on the case.

Marley was recovering that same afternoon, and veterinarians hoped their patient would have an improved quality of life.