Canada Goose Release!

On February 6th, the Illinois Raptor Center transferred a Canada goose to us that was found in Decatur, IL unable to fly with a wound on one elbow. Injuries near a joint must be specifically evaluated to ensure the joint itself is unharmed; if there is damage, the patient will likely develop painful and debilitating arthritis, making it unreleasable. Radiographs were taken and luckily no damage was appreciated to the joint and no fractures were found.

A total of 5 metal pellets, presumably BBs, surprised the team on radiographs!

However, the goose did surprise us with a total of 5 metal pellets, presumed to be BBs, scattered throughout its body! With several radiographic views, the team was able to determine that none of the pellets were likely to cause damage or leech lead into the GI tract, so they were not removed.

Two sizable soft tissue wounds, one on the patients back and another at the right ‘elbow’ joint needed extensive debridement and bandaging, and both healed beautifully during its time with us. Along with medical management, the team performed passive range of motion therapy (similar to physical therapy in people) and laser therapy every other day to ensure the patient’s flight muscles stayed strong despite bandaging and hospitalization.
In early March, the team, unfortunately, realized that many of the goose’s primary flight feathers on its left wing had been severely damaged. These feathers are essential for flight and needed to be addressed before the patient could be released, so the decision was made to perform a feather transplant procedure known as ‘imping’. The procedure involves clipping the damaged feathers, taking primary feathers from a donor bird, (in this case, a cadaver from another goose recently euthanized due to a severe fracture and head trauma), and using a strong adhesive to attach the donor feathers into the shaft of the clipped damaged feathers. No nerves or blood vessels are present near the clipped area, so this is a non-painful and non-invasive procedure, but it is still performed under anesthesia to reduce stress. The procedure successfully restored flight and greatly reduced the amount of time this patient needed to be hospitalized since we did not need to wait until its next molt to release it!

Before: Primary feathers are broken, uneven and would not sustain flight

After: Donor feathers were successfully implanted and will remain until the patient’s next molt

A beautiful ‘after’ photo of both wings- now ready for flight!

Early Saturday morning in between two midterm examinations, team members drove an hour to Lake Decatur to release the goose near where it was found. After over 2 months in our care, it was wonderful to watch it use its new feathers and take off. Happy travels, goose!

-Emma Whitmore, 2nd Year veterinary student

Summer Volunteer Interview

One of the unique experiences while attending veterinary school at the University of Illinois is the opportunity to engage with the Wildlife Medical Clinic (WMC). All of the patients presented to the WMC are cared for by approximately 110 dedicated volunteer veterinary students that are grouped into teams to help treat our patients. In addition to our veterinary students, each team has one to two undergraduate volunteers. Just like the veterinary students, these undergraduates take time out of their busy schedules to assist in caring for our multitude of patients. They are integral team members that contribute so much to our clinic.

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Wild Night Out 2019

On January 25, the Wildlife Medical Clinic successfully hosted its largest fundraiser of the year, Wild Night Out (WNO), at Papa Del’s Pizza. This event is designed to be a fun and engaging night out for veterinary students and faculty. Activities included a silent auction, a live auction, raffle ticket sales, and a delicious pizza dinner (both deep dish and thin crust!) for everyone who attended. This event is special both as an opportunity to build camaraderie throughout the veterinary school and its ability to help to raise necessary funds to support our patients at the wildlife clinic.

Highlights from the night included Veterinary Clinical Medicine Department Head Dr. Dennis French’s incredible auctioneer skills and light-up shoes, a competitive but friendly bidding war between students to attend a bar crawl with the large animal/zoo medicine clinicians, and the birthday cake that was brought out for the Wildlife Medical Clinic’s very own Dr. Sarah Reich’s birthday, which happened to be that same night!

This event was a huge success for the Wildlife Medical Clinic with over two hundred people in attendance and thousands of dollars raised. All proceeds will go toward the care for our patients at the Wildlife Medical Clinic. We look forward to the opportunity to grow further student educational opportunities and maximize the chances of the successful release of our patients back to the wild in the months to come!

A huge shout out to the Wildlife Support Fund, Nina French, Gina Clapper, Dr. Dennis French, Dr. Julia Whittington, and Dr. Sarah Reich for everything they did to help organize this event and make it run as smoothly as it did! We look forward to hosting this event again next year and the support it provides for our patient in the clinic.


Ivana Levy

Fundraising Co-Chair

Wildlife Medical Clinic at Illinois