Wildlife rehabilitation is not an easy job. We must have and be able to apply a large variety of skills each and every day. We are required to not only be able to access and apply a large wealth of knowledge, we also have to have the emotional and mental strength to make the difficult decisions and accept the sad realities that we cannot fix everything. It is our job to know when to fight for an animal and when to help them to the rainbow bridge and stop their pain. While some cases have a very clear line most do not. There are so many injuries and diseases that we cannot easily or quickly detect. Sometimes with time we are able to solve the mysteries but sometimes those mysteries are beyond repair.
Typically our team is able to maintain a professional demeanor when the difficult cases occur. This does not mean we aren’t upset that we were unable to save the animal. From time to time however we have cases that really hit us hard. Some of them stir up anger as the injury was intentional or caused by direct human neglect. Others just crush our hearts and turn us into a sobbing mess. It’s hard to tell exactly what makes a case so much harder than the others that it has such a strong personal impact on us. It could be that we felt a strong connection with the individual animal or because we thought we had beat the odds and sometimes it’s a combination.
It is always difficult to share when we are feeling vulnerable but it is important that you know we are human too. With that in mind and tears in our eyes we have an announcement to make.
We recently had a beautiful female bobcat come into our care after she ran out in front of a vehicle. The driver did everything they could to lessen the injury and immediately reported the accident. Within half an hour we had a team on site and had her ready to transport home. We began pain management and stabilized her so that she could go under sedation and anesthesia for a full exam and x-rays by the Wildlife Docs at Busch Gardens. The day of her vet appointment she was feisty but still clearly uncomfortable walking. Her x-rays confirmed our suspicions that she had broken her humerus. We were incredibly fortunate that the vets were able to perform her surgery immediately. The operation went beautifully and we thought we were in the clear. The plan was for Ada, (short for Adanedi) meaning gift in Cherokee, to remain at Busch Gardens for continued supportive care, pain management, and physical therapy as her leg healed. Unfortunately shortly after her procedure she threw a blood clot which resulted in cardiac arrest. The team did everything in their power to save her including resuscitation. Sadly she passed. The vet staff immediately notified our on-site volunteer who broke down in tears. After notifying the senior team we decided to hold off announcing her passing for two reasons. The first is we wanted to make sure we had all of the information regarding what had happened and the second is because we did not want to make such a heartbreaking announcement during the holidays.
With the necropsy report complete and the holiday passed we are ready as we will ever be to share this information. The pathologist’s findings uncovered those mysteries that we couldn’t see during our exams. Ada had sustained extensive internal trauma. It was determined that no amount of care that we could have provided her even with the support of a state of the art animal hospital behind us would have changed the outcome.
We have made the decision to continue offering her for adoption in our “Adopt a Bobcat” program so that she may continue to help educate others about her species even in her passing.