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Salisbury Zoo News

Welcome back, Skyrae!

Veterinary Technician smiling at red wolf

Skyrae, our 6-year-old female red wolf, is back on exhibit at the Salisbury Zoo after several months of recovery. We received Skyrae in December 2023 and she and Bowie, our male, were getting to know one another. In late January 2024, she was noted to be lame and was not putting any weight on her left rear leg. She was brought to the Ron Benton Animal Health Clinic at the Salisbury Zoo, where an exam and diagnostics confirmed that she had ruptured her calcanean (Achilles) tendon. This type of injury requires surgery to resolve.

Red wolf covered with blanket and with cast and medical equipment

The veterinary staff consulted with board certified surgeons from Chesapeake Veterinary Surgical Specialists  in Annapolis and the Red Wolf Saving Animals From Extinction, or SAFE, team to come up with a treatment plan for Skyrae. Because she is a wolf and can not be leash-walked during recovery, repairing the tendon had very little chance of success, so we elected to perform arthrodesis of the tarsus (surgically fusing the ankle into a weight-bearing position). This surgery would allow Skyrae to walk and trot and would allow her to keep her leg.

The surgery was performed in Annapolis at CVSS by Dr. Rich Burgess in March 2024. The surgery went well, and Skyrae returned to the Zoo for post-op care. She required weeks of bandage changes and exercise restrictions to make sure that she healed appropriately. Dr. Burgess provided his expertise throughout the entire process, communicating with our veterinarian via email and phone calls. We were a bit concerned that she might not tolerate the cast and bandage changes, but she was an excellent patient.

She had the cast on for eight weeks and then needed another eight weeks in a larger, but still confined area to start learning to use the leg again and bearing weight. Despite being stuck in the hospital, we made sure that she still got a birthday party. After her most recent recheck this month, she has been cleared to go back on exhibit with Bowie. She is still healing and will likely not be completely sound (no longer lame) for another six to eight months, but she no longer needs restrictions. As such, you may see her hold up her left rear leg when she runs sometimes. We expect this to decrease with time as she continues to use the limb and build back up the lost muscle mass.

We are so grateful for the staff at CVSS, especially Dr. Burgess, for their kindness and skill, in helping us to manage Skyrae’s case. Now that she is healed, we hope that she and Bowie can enjoy each other’s company for years to come.

Birthday party setup for Skyrae, red wolf
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