Bird Alliance of Oregon Rescues Beaver with Unusual Hip Condition

A small but solid young beaver spent a few weeks in the Wildlife Care Center this spring after she became stuck in an outdoor fountain in Portland’s Pearl District. The youngster had followed her family into the water feature, but due to structural problems in her right hip, she was unable to climb out when her parents left to head back to the Willamette River.

Photo by Tinsley Hunsdorfer

When it became clear the beaver’s mobility was seriously limited, Bird Alliance of Oregon staff members retrieved the beaver and took her to see Dr. Deb Ward at the Oswego Veterinary Hospital. After conducting an exam and X-rays, Dr. Ward determined the ball of the beaver’s right femur was missing. The beaver’s hip had remodeled to compensate for the absent joint component, which suggests the beaver was either born this way or sustained an injury early in life when her bones were still developing.

The beaver wasn’t a candidate for surgery, so we transferred her back to the Wildlife Care Center to see if her mobility would improve — the beaver had, after all, managed to survive two or so years in the wild with her condition. We provided the youngster with good food, space to rest, physical therapy, and daily paddles in a water-filled tub. After a couple of weeks of this supportive care, she started walking on her own.

It’s not clear why the beaver’s mobility was so limited when she got stuck in the fountain, but she regained enough mobility that care center staffers declared her ready to return to the wild. We recently released the beaver in a stretch of the Willamette River that has good beaver habitat and is located near to where the beaver was initially found. She quickly swam off into the current.

Photo by Bob Sallinger

Every year the Wildlife Care Center treats 3,000 injured or orphaned native animals. If you would like to make a donation to support our wildlife rehabilitation work at the Wildlife Care Center, click here.