photo courtesy of ZooMontana

ZooMontana Asks for Help as Wolf Requires Surgery, Changes to Habitat

February 13, 2021

ZooMontana Media Release

Billings, MT (February 11, 2021) – During the late summer of 2020, ZooMontana took in a young, abandoned, 7-week-old Grey Wolf pup. The wolf was found, fed, and briefly housed by families in Condon, MT, and then turned over to Montana’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks in Kalispell. After unsuccessful attempts to relocate the pup’s pack, the wolf was transferred to ZooMontana, and aptly named Simpson. During his first few months at the Zoo, officials say he was doing great, with a few oddities attributed to puppyhood. However, as he grew older, his clumsiness and poor eyesight led caregivers to believe something more was going on. After an altercation with one of the Zoo’s adult wolves, his condition deteriorated significantly, ultimately leading the Zoo’s veterinarian team to take him in for a CT scan of his brain. The scan unfortunately showed some bad news; Simpson has Congenital Hydrocephalus.

“This condition causes an increased production of cerebrospinal fluid, or "water on the brain", that increases intracranial pressure”, said Dr. Haynes Werner, one of the Zoo’s lead veterinarians.  “In Simpson's case, his condition is likely to worsen as he gets older, and while he is currently on several medications, long term medical management is not his best option. We got to work to find solutions, and rested on surgery as his best option”, Werner added.

Being this is a unique, highly specialized case, ZooMontana’s veterinary team contacted specialists in the field to tackle the delicate surgery. After an exhaustive search, Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine agreed to take on the case. Simpson will travel with his local veterinary team to the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital in March to have a shunt placed in his brain to drain the excess fluid and relieve pressure on his brain. ZooMontana Executive Director, Jeff Ewelt, said that everyone agrees that this surgery is the best option available to Simpson, but wants everyone to know that many risks are involved. 

The Zoo stated that surgery is expected to cost about $10,000, with another $10,000 in expected habitat changes to make Simpson’s life more comfortable. ZooMontana has setup up a donation link on their website, www.zoomontana.org/support-simpson, if you would like to help contribute to Simpson’s surgery. 

About ZooMontana

ZooMontana is a nonprofit 501 (c) (3) educational organization committed to the best in animal care, conservation, and wildlife education.  As Montana’s only Zoological and Botanical Park, ZooMontana is dedicated to wildlife education and conservation. The Zoo is located at 2100 S. Shiloh Rd. in Billings, MT just off the Zoo Drive exit (443) of Interstate 90. Find the Zoo on the web at zoomontana.org and on Facebook. ZooMontana is open every day at 10:00 am and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

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