Yukon Weekly

The wildlife veterinarians who care for northern animals are shown in this documentary series

A documentary series demonstrates how wildlife veterinarians care for animals in the north

Key takeaways:

  • A CBC documentary series called Arctic Vets takes viewers behind the scenes of how wildlife doctors treat their patients.
  • The latest veterinary graduate works with Yukon veterinarian Maria Hallock to care for the preserve’s diverse collection of northern animals in the Wildlife Preserve episode.

Wildlife veterinarians rarely see cooperative patients, whether it’s polar bear root canals, muskox trying to wake up early from anesthesia, or grey wolf surgery, no matter how good their bedside manner is.

Arctic Vets, a CBC documentary series, takes viewers behind the scenes of how wildlife doctors care for their patients. Dr. Chris Enright and his team travel to Yukon, Alaska, Manitoba, and  Ontario in the 2nd season of the show to help treat northern animals.

“These are a bunch of animals that most Canadians are familiar with but, unfortunately, don’t get to see up close, particularly in the South,” Enright said.

On January 7, the second season of Arctic Vets began with a polar bear root canal in Winnipeg. Later in the series, the Yukon Wildlife Preserve and the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center will be visited.

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In the Wildlife Preserve episode, the latest veterinary graduate works with Yukon veterinarian Maria Hallock to care for the preserve’s diverse collection of northern animals.

“She benefits from Dr. Maria’s expertise and also the facilities there, and she faces many of the same challenges of providing veterinary care to wildlife in a variety of situations,” Enright said. “At the wildlife preserve, you can understand some of the cool things that are going on in your own backyard.”

Taking care of wildlife presents different challenges than caring for our cats and dogs at home.

“The first is that wildlife will develop positive connections with people in some circumstances,” stated Enright, “but they don’t understand fully that veterinarians are there to assist them.” “With my pet dog or cat at home, I can look into their mouths and feel their bodies, but with wildlife, they don’t always allow us to do that.”

In the 1st episode of the 2nd season, Enright and his team are searching for a root canal on an orphaned polar bear in the mouth of a creature with some pretty fearsome teeth.

“Bringing in a veterinary dentist and performing a root canal was the best treatment for this bear.” As a result, we could work together and provide a high level of care to difficult patients. That’s how we live on a day-to-day basis; it’s not just for the sake of the show. This is what occurs daily. So we’re just able to show it by lifting the curtain a little bit.”

A documentary series demonstrates how wildlife veterinarians care for animals in the north
A documentary series demonstrates how wildlife veterinarians care for animals in the north. Image from Google

The show’s 1st season was mostly set in Manitoba, particularly in Winnipeg and Churchill. Enright is the chief veterinarian at the Assiniboine Park Conservancy, which runs a polar bear as well as another northern animal zoo.

Grey wolf surgery, injured belugas, human dispute with bears, and an electrocuted eagle are all featured in the first season.

The 2nd season of the series will visit wildlife facilities in the Yukon and Alaska and Winnipeg, and Ontario. Along the way, the veterinarians tag Arctic harbour seals, monitor the health of young reindeer and caribou, and assist with the recovery of Arctic foxes.

“Everything from bison to reindeer and thinhorn sheep has made an appearance.” Sandhill cranes and owls are among the birds we have. “There’s a wide range of patients that we see throughout the year, and the series captures that,” he said.

“I love being able to share our enthusiasm and several of our stories about living alongside wildlife, as well as finding ways that people throughout Canada can help ensure that [northern] wildlife is still around to live along with in the next 50 to 100 years.”

Source-Yukon News

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