Doctors save black bear cub with collapsed lung

Jul 17, 2012

These two cubs survived a dramatic capture after being discovered up a tree in Darrington, Washington.

The female cub (on the left) suffered a collapsed lung when the State Wildlife team fired a tranquilizer dart at the quickly moving cub.

The cub and her brother were quickly transported to PAWS Wildlife Center for emergency care.

The initial exam showed a small puncture wound on the left side of the cub’s chest.

“You could hear the classic ‘sucking’ sound that often comes from a chest wound,” says PAWS Veterinarian John Huckabee. “The left lung was completely collapsed.”

The PAWS veterinary team quickly closed the wound and re-inflated the cub’s lung.

While the procedure is common for humans, this is the first time vets at PAWS have performed the surgery.

“We have had more than seventy bears over the years, and this is the first time we’ve ever come across this,” says Veterinarian Steve Johnson.

In most cases, a collapsed lung is the result of a gunshot wound or an arrow strike in the wild.

Without care, the animal is unlikely to survive more than a few days. “These have a very poor prognosis,” says Huckabee. “Luckily, we were able to care for this cub right away.”

Today the cub is eating regularly and even gaining a little bit of weight.

Although her prognosis is guarded, the PAWS Wildlife team is cautiously optimistic that she will continue to make a full recovery and be ready for release by next year.

PAWS ( ) is a champion for animals – rehabilitating injured and orphaned wildlife, sheltering and adopting cats and dogs, and educating people to make a better world for animals and people.

Each year PAWS cares for more than 6,000 animals from 154 different species. From kittens to cougars, from canines to black bears, PAWS has done this remarkable work for 44 years.


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