Every Friday, Dr. Cliff drives up north from his clinic in Markham to volunteer at Shades of Hope, a wildlife refuge located in Georgina, Ontario. As commercial and residential development expands, the wildlife in the area is pushed into smaller areas of natural habitat where they succumb to food scarcity and accidents. One unfortunate day, a majestic Bald Eagle swooped in at the wrong place and the wrong time while hunters were shooting at ducks. Caught in the line of fire, it came hurtling to the ground, sustaining injuries in her wing during the fall. Fortunately, the hunters found her and contacted Shades of Hope who, in turn, called Dr. Cliff. While this Bald Eagle was very much alive, she could no longer fly and her survival depended on what Dr. Cliff could do for her.
About Bald Eagles
Bald Eagles are a North American bird of prey. Indigenous tribes consider them spiritual symbols, masters of the skies and the closest beings to the creator. The United States has adopted the Bald Eagle as their national emblem. But these birds are also native to parts of Canada as well as Northern Mexico. Their lifespan is very long, at 20 – 30 years compared to other birds, and they are known to build enormous nests, some weighing as much as 2000 lbs.
Emergency Surgery on a Bald Eagle
When Dr. Cliff first met the Bald Eagle at his clinic, she appeared rather stunned. To understand the extent of the injuries they took X-rays which revealed a single clean fracture halfway down the humerus, the main bone on the wing that runs from the shoulder to the elbow. This was a serious injury, but Dr. Cliff was confident he could pin the humerus together. He was more concerned, however, about the extent of muscle damage in the area of the fracture and how that would heal.
Performing this surgery proved tricky because the anesthetic tubes at Dr. Cliff’s disposal were sized for dog and cat trachea, and the Bald Eagle kept waking up through the process. On top of it, the strong wing muscles had been pulled apart during the accident, making it very difficult for Dr. Cliff to align the fractured pieces to pin them together. Eventually, he succeeded and the team then secured her wing snugly to her body so it would not move.
Shades of Hope took the Bald Eagle back to the refuge in Georgina to convalesce. When Dr. Cliff met her three weeks later, she had a name, Wolf, because she was not a compliant patient at all. As an apex predator, she hated being caged in and was hell-bent on biting anyone who came close to her. The crew at Shades of Hope took all of this in stride as these were definite signs of recovery.
Whenever Dr. Cliff dropped in to examine and manipulate her injured wing they’d have to hold her firmly with a blanket over her head. With each visit, Dr. Cliff was heartened to see her wing healing nicely. She received regular physiotherapy and massages to help her along. Eventually, the pins came out and Wolf was finally ready to take a test flight in the large flight tunnel at Shades of Hope. And what a grand moment that was for everyone aiding in her recovery! From there, they ensured she practiced her flying daily within the confines of the facility and she grew stronger and healthier.
Wolf’s Debut on The Dodo
When Dr. Cliff put the footage of the test flight up on social media, it caught the attention of many viewers, including The Dodo, a very popular online media brand that exclusively focuses on animal stories and animal rights issues. They were keen to capture Wolf’s release back into the wild. That moment arrived on a cold wintery day. Dr. Cliff and Cathy from Shades of Hope headed out to the frozen Niagara River, ready to document her flight to freedom. He performed a final examination on Wolf’s wing and this time, she got him with a hard nip on his hand! She was eager to be set free, and when Cathy finally let her go, she flew off to a safe distance, stopped and looked back as if to thank them, before taking off to live out the rest of her life the way nature intended. Her story was featured on The Dodo and you can watch it on their Facebook page by clicking below.
About Shades of Hope
Shades of Hope is a Registered Charity located in the town of Georgina, Ontario, Canada. Licensed by
the Ministry of Natural Resources and Fisheries and the Canadian Wildlife Services, they serve
the Greater Toronto Area and other municipalities throughout the South Central Ontario corridor. Their mission is to nurture, treat and rehabilitate injured and orphaned native wildlife and release them back into their natural habitats when they are strong enough.
To see more rescue missions like this by Dr. Cliff Worldwide Vet, subscribe to our YouTube Channel.
About Dr. Cliff
Dr. Cliff Redford, DVM, is an experienced veterinarian and owner/operator of the Wellington Veterinary Hospital in Markham, Ontario, Canada. Fondly known as Dr. Cliff to his clients, he has tended to the wellness of pets and animals for over two decades. Hands-on experience in his clinic, combined with animal advocacy and rescue missions locally and across the globe, has allowed him to curate a vast body of knowledge on animal health and welfare, including preventative counselling, soft tissue surgery, advanced dental procedures, internal medicine and emergency care.