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Virginia Bear Update #4, Sedation and Safety

We left off the last Virginia bear update with her being wheeled into the room to get ready for the work that was to come. The first part of getting Virginia “seen” by the team of specialists was getting her to sleep– or sedated. Our bear crate has a variety of doors and little “windows” we can use to help make this happen safely.

Bear crate with description

The general plan was reviewed with the team, and then we began: I “called” Virginia to one side of the crate, and had an open bottle of syrup that I wafted the smell through one of the small openings on the upper part of the crate. Virginia was immediately engaged with me. Meanwhile, my counterpart had the sedatives pulled up in a pole syringe (a syringe, but much longer), ready to inject into Virginia’s front leg by opening the 7-inch small window on the opposite side of the crate once Virginia was focused on me.

Vets stand on red mat near bear crate
Once assured Virginia was sedated, the crate door would be opened and Virginia would first be moved onto the red mat on the ground. (and then lifted up to a gurney from there).

Literally, it was just a split second for the poke. It worked perfectly. We turned off the lights and a few minutes later Virginia was asleep in the crate. We use the same small windows to open and make sure Virginia is really sedated before opening the crate. (We use a broom handle to safely nudge Virginia and assure no response). In actuality, one of the crate doors is guillotine style, and we can lift it up and lock it in place in 4-inch increments. This also allowed us to slowly and securely open the crate and assure Virginia was sedated before letting the entire team begin their work.

Vet centers bear on red mat
Getting Virginia centered on the tarp.
Vet hold rag over bear's eyes
Before moving her from the tarp on the floor to a gurney, anesthesia was given to keep her under for the work that was to come.

Once stable on the floor, the team lifted in unison to get her up on a gurney. At this point different team members swooped in to get Virginia intubated and shaved for a catheter and… It was an impressive scene to watch.

Vets work on sedated bear
Dr. Harrison, center, in the light blue shirt, helped guide the team where to shave as well as how to get Virginia stabilized.

Vets work on sedated bear

A flurry of activity occurred to get all medicines, anesthetics, tubes, monitoring equipment all just the way needed. It was quite the choreographed dance to watch the team get this done.

Thanks to Mike Charbonneau, the Director of Communications and Marketing at NC State College of Veterinary Medicine, for sending us the following pictures. Once Virginia was up on on the gurney, it was my time to say goodbye and wait for the news and next steps.

Vets work on sedated bear
Photo credit: Mike Charbonneau, Director of Communications and Marketing at NC State College of Veterinary Medicine
Vets work on sedated bear
Photo credit: Mike Charbonneau, Director of Communications and Marketing at NC State College of Veterinary Medicine
Vets work on sedated bear
Photo credit: Mike Charbonneau, Director of Communications and Marketing at NC State College of Veterinary Medicine