Darwin Animal Doctors


Archive: Feb 2017

  1. Luna’s return hematoma

    Remember Luna, who had an aural hematoma back in December of last year?


    Well, unfortunately, the owners didn’t notice that Luna had another ear infection… After a few days of shaking her head again, Luna had another aural hematoma. One issue with aural hematomas is that they do tend to be repeat problems…

    This time the Doctors decided to try another method in order to treat the hematoma and removed the excess blood with a syringe. After successfully draining the hematoma, Dr Carmen put some medication on the skin of her ear, and then applied a bandage around Luna’s head to add some pressure.

    Luna was not alone as both Dr Carmen and Dr Majella had bandages as well! Poor Dr Carmen had to catch a cat who got a little scared and decided to start climbing its way around the clinic… Many of you may not know, but Dr Carmen is not only a wonderful veterinarian, but she is also a super cat catcher – known to scale walls, leap from amazing heights and catch cats with one hand! Unfortunately, in this incident, the cat was a bit of a wild one and by the time everyone had realized that Carmen had already caught the cat and open a holding cage, the cat gave Carmen a bit of a bite…

    With Dr Majella also with an injury from a stray sharp object, the team got together for a little bandage photo-shoot!

    Lucky Luna went home with the bandage on her head and a good reminder to her owners to keep an eye on her ears!

    Bandage team! Majella hurted herself with a needle   P1070320

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  2. The case of the found Ocelot

    This past Monday, Dr Jochem was called back in for an emergency – the previously sited ocelot had been turned in to the clinic.

    Over the previous weeks, this poor ocelot had been sited at various locations on the island – supposedly wearing a collar. Concern only grew for the poor cat when reports came in that he was injured and not able to walk properly. The endangered animal needed help, and needed it fast.

    The clinic team jumped into action and began asking the public for help in finding and bringing the injured ocelot to the clinic. Attempts to catch the cat had been unsuccessful as he would continue to hide in unreachable places, but, finally, a few days after his initial sighting the poor, injured cat was caught and brought in.

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    As Dr Jochem arrived, the clinic tech had the cat on the table and was giving him much needed fluids. The Doctor then gently and carefully inspected the cat to make sure he had no further injuries. His hind legs were in terrible condition, with severe muscle atrophy, leaving his back half looking like just skin and bone. With drag injuries to his legs, it was clear that he had been in pain, hauling himself around for quite some time in this condition. He had probably not eaten in a long time, unable to catch prey with such injuries.


    As the clinic team contacted the Belize Wildlife and Referral Clinic, The Doctor searched for something that the wild cat might be able to eat. In the end, the best solution available in the clinic was a mixture of wet and dry cat food.

    Arrangements to transport the cat to the Wildlife Clinic on the mainland were made and the cat was put in a holding cage to rest for the night. Dr Jochem knelt by the cage and put the bowl of food in, hoping the cat’s excessive hunger might lead him to try to the unfamiliar food. Surprisingly, he went straight for it. While there was no collar on the cat when he arrived, with the pattern of his hair around his neck and previous reports suggesting that he was wearing one, and his quick reaction to cat food it, definitely seemed that he had been illegally kept as someone’s pet.

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    The next morning, the cat was on his way to the Belize Wildlife and Referral Clinic. The clinic team did an amazing job getting the attention of the public in order to have the cat brought into the clinic. While he has a long way to go to recovery, he will be in very good hands in the Wildlife Clinic.

    The Belizean Ocelot is an endangered and protected species. This animal should never be kept as a pet, and any suspected cases of such should always be reported to the correct authorities.

    Thank you to everyone involved in getting this particular cat back to safety.


  3. “Thank you” just doesn’t cut it…

    The Celebrity Xpedition Galapagos Fund, a long term supporter of Darwin Animal Doctors, enabled Dr. Carmen to order a major restock of supplies and equipment for the Darwin Animal Doctors clinic. For Carmen, it was like being a kid let free in a toy store….

    As well as a full stock of supplies, we can also upgrade the clinic, especially the surgery room, in order to be better equipped to treat domestic animals and the increasing number of wildlife cases coming through the door. The impact that such generosity and support from the Celebrity Xpedition Galapagos Fund will manifest in safer surgeries, better anaesthetics, better equipment for the treatment of wildlife and a stock of high quality supplies. Our Darwin Animal Doctors vets will be able to treat more animals and at a higher standard than ever before.

    Our Ecuadorian suppliers Vetflexx and AllPets, also long term supporters of the Darwin Animal Doctors, helped us get what we needed. Omar, Dr Sotomayor and Dr Tania along with their amazing team from AllPets coordinated the orders and purchases from their base in the capital city, Quito. AllPets were also an important partner supplying our earthquake relief team during the 2016 disaster on the coast of Ecuador.

    As the team in Quito organised the supplies, NOVA Galapagos, headed by Rene Heyer, worked alongside Carmen in organising the logistics of moving such a large order to Galapagos and making sure everything complied with the strict restrictions on shipments in and out of the Islands. Eventually it was decided to send Carmen to Quito to personally escort the supplies back. The biggest concern was that this would leave a clinic full of patients with no qualified veterinarian in attendance.

    As if they had somehow heard a telepathic call for help, two veterinarians, Dr Paul and Dr Babette contacted the clinic mentioning that they were currently travelling in South America and inquired if Darwin Animal Doctors needed any veterinary volunteers. With cases streaming in the front door, Carmen was very happy to have such an offer, and Drs Paul and Babette were confirmed to volunteer and their paperwork was underway. And then, Carmen and Rene had an idea. They contacted Paul and Babette and asked if they would mind going first to AllPets in Quito to pick up the supplies and bring them over to the clinic. Thankfully they said that that would be no problem, and the issue of how to transport the supplies to the Islands was solved.

    After that, everything set in like clockwork. Paul and Babette purchased two extra suitcases and dropped them off with Dr Tania and her team from AllPets . The next day, the two picked the cases up, full of supplies, to bring with them to the clinic in Galapagos. As not everything fit this time, Dr Tania and the team at AllPets will fill more suitcases for the next volunteers who have already agreed to make a stop in Quito to coordinate the movement of the next set of supplies.

    Darwin Animal Doctors are constantly aiming to provide the highest level of veterinary care possible, in all areas of the world. The generosity of organisations such as the Celebrity Xpedition Galapagos Fund and the kindness of individuals such as those from VetFlexx or veterinarians such as Paul and Babette, allow us to reach this goal. Thanks to this coordination of support, our clinic is now better than it has ever been.

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  4. Negra, La Elegida.

    Little Negra should have been called “Suerte” or “La Elegida” after luck would have it that she survived such an unfortunate incident…

    This little one month old puppy was one of a litter of eight. The owner of the puppies wanted to do the right thing by them and deparasite them all. Deparasiting is very important for the health of puppies, however, as puppies are so fragile and deparasites are medication, it is also something you have to be careful with. As for all medications, it is essential to give the correct dose and of the correct type of medication – something approved for puppies.

    The owner went to the pet store and asked advice from the seller, who was not someone knowledgeable about animal medications. The store attendant advised the owner to give a certain amount of a dewormer – one that was not approved for use in dogs younger than two months old, or under one kilogram. Negra and her littermates weighted a tiny 0.8 kg. Moreover, the store owner prescribed 10 times the amount of dewormer needed for a dog of this size.

    The owner dutifully returned home and gave the deparasite medication to the litter of puppies. Instantly, six of the pups swelled up so badly that five did not surviving the incident. Two puppies luckily did not react in the same manner and one, little Negra, somehow survived. With a will to live, the little pup continued until the owner decided to bring her to the clinic two days later…

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    Thankfully, Negra was still able to eat and drink and so was not in such bad shape when she came into the clinic. The Doctors gave her two injections, one of anti-histamines, and another to also help reduce the swelling and counter the allergic reaction.

    Two days later, Negra returned to the clinic looking much better. Thankfully the lucky pup will survive the incident, along with the two littermates who had no reaction.  Lucky Negra will serve as a reminder to us all of the importance to ask advice from someone qualified before administering any type of medication to your pets.

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  5. Jack’s Second Chance

    Jack was roaming the highlands of Santa Cruz; hungry, sick and covered in fleas, ticks and mites. It is a tough life for a dog without a home, and Jack was truly bearing the brunt of it. That was, until one day, when a lovely resident found Jack and brought him straight to the Darwin Animal Doctors clinic.

    The Doctors could see straight away that Jack was in terrible condition – anyone could. He was so infested with fleas that they could be visibly seen jumping around, even towards Doctors! The Doctors could also see that he had a very bad mite infestation. The infestation was so bad that Jack had gotten a secondary skin infection. His paws were swollen and painful, and his skin was so damaged and dry, that it would crack open and bleed at even the slightest touch. It must have been torturous for poor Jack, living on the streets in the extreme hot and dry conditions of the Galapagos Islands.

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    The Doctors treated Jack for the mites, ticks and fleas, and then also for his secondary skin infection. Jack was given antibiotics and his new owners were given a special medicated shampoo to help get Jack’s skin back to health.

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    Two weeks later, Jack came back for a check up and he was already looking much better. The pads of his paws were no longer swollen and his skin no longer cracked, flaked or bled. The secondary skin infection was under control and Jack had even started to grow back his hair.

    The Doctors were so glad to see such improvement in Jack, as were his new, proud family. Jack will return again in another two weeks, and then every month to continue his treatment and ensure that he returns to fit, full health.

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  6. Henrik

    Late one evening, after the Belize clinic was shut and the team were home, Dr Jochem received a call on his phone – “There is an emergency at the clinic!” right as Michelle received a similar message on her phone “Emergency in the clinic – come quick!” The two headed straight over, and were at the clinic within minutes. They were met there by the clinic technician, and a very concerned woman waiting in a taxi with a large Boevier.

    “He can’t walk. I don’t know what happened. All of a sudden he just can’t walk”.

    As Dr Jochem unlocked the clinic and set up the examination room, Michelle and the owner supported Henrik’s weight as the weak and confused dog tried to walk his way into the clinic. As soon as he entered the examination room, he collapsed.

    Dr Jochem quickly began assessing  Henrik as he asked about what had happened. The concerned owner told the Doctor that Henrik had not wanted to eat or drink water throughout the day, but that otherwise he had seemed completely normal. At 5pm, when he normally goes for a walk, Henrik waited at the door – ready for his afternoon beach stroll. His owner had taken him for a very short walk, but upon his return home, Henrik became very weak and collapsed. A little later he started to have spasms; what the owner described as something like an epileptic fit. Dr Jochem suspected a poisoning and started administering IV fluids and activated charcoal.

    Poor Henrik kept trying to get up but continued to lose balance and stumble, falling back down again. He swayed his head in strange patterns and his eyes continued to dart about. He was definitely not in a good way.

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    The Doctor continued his assessment, noticing that Henrik had a rapid heart and breathing rate and his pupils were dilating nonsensically. All the signs pointed to a poisoning – but Henrik’s owner was adamant that he had not eaten anything abnormal. The family didn’t use fertilizers, all cleaners are kept in cupboards high off the ground, no foods are ever left out and Henrik does not leave the house unless on a leash.

    Something did not add up.

    And then Henrik started to do something strange. As he tried to get up, he began to walk in circles to the right. As Dr Jochem and the owner were running over everything that had occurred up until his first spasm, Henrik turned in these circles about three times. And that gave Dr Jochem had an idea. As he checked Henrik’s ears, the Doctor asked the owner if Henrik has a history of ear infections. As he received the confirmatory “yes”, he also saw the likely culprit – the right ear was infected.

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    It is rare, but every so often an inner ear infection can be bad enough that it can cause neurological symptoms such as Henrik’s. Dr Jochem cleaned the ear and gave Henrik some medicated ear drops. He made sure Henrik had some more fluids and a general antibiotic as well, and sent the owner home with ear medication and clear instructions to call if anything got worse. Henrik was to return to the clinic in two days, so the Doctor could check his progress.

    A few days later, a happy Boevier walked into the clinic and greeted Dr Jochem with a smile. Henrik’s ear infection was clearing up nicely and his neurological symptoms had all subsided. Henrik was back to normal. An interesting and rare case, Henrik has since returned a few times to the clinic to greet Dr Jochem, now one of his favourite patients.

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  7. NAVC Conference

    Last week, a team of three of the Darwin Animal Doctors attended the North American Veterinary Community Conference. The team had a wonderful week, between attending lectures, sharing the story and successes of Darwin Animal Doctors with others at the conference, and meeting with a variety of other organisations and medical supply companies.

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    The Conference started on Saturday 4th where the team set up the Darwin Animal Doctors information booth, and checked the schedule to work out who would be going to which lectures when. And they were off to a great start! The table filled quickly with interested passers by wanting to hear more about Darwin Animal Doctors and what we do. The team were even able to meet up with a few of our past volunteers who came by to visit and recall stories of their experience volunteering with us.

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    The week continued much like this, with our Head Veterinarian and Project Coordinator Dr Jochem attending a variety of lectures; from shelter management medicines and new spay-neuter protocols to lectures on wound dressings and femor head removal surgery. Our Veterinary Technician Hannah Stoughton was even able to catch a lecture on her very favourite animal; sharks in a lecture on shark and ray medicine!

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    It was an incredible opportunity for our team to stay at the very top of their game with the most recent of scientific advances and changes in veterinary medicine, and a wonderful chance for us to reconnect with previous volunteers, speak to potential future volunteers, and those just interested in hearing about what we do. Moreover, we were extremely happy to be able to return and speak to organisations such as Midmark, Idexx, Kruuse and Jorgensen who have been incredible supporters of Darwin Animal Doctors over the years. It is thanks to the incredible generosity of organisations such as these that we are able to have clinics stocked with medications, a blood analysis machine, gas aesthetic machines, life sign monitoring machines, an infusion pump, an x-ray machine, and a variety of instruments for medical treatment, from suture material to wound dressings. Of course, we relish in the opportunity to meet with these companies and thank them, once again, for their support which keeps us saving lives around the word.

    All in all, the conference was a fantastic success, with a lot of knowledge gained and connections made and maintained, and – of course – some fun had at the same time!

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  8. Principe and his motorbike incident

    Late one afternoon in the Galapagos clinic, two girls came running in holding a small Boxer puppy. The Doctors noticed straight away that the two month old pup had blood covering his nose and front paws, and asked what had happened. The worried girls hurriedly told the Doctors that Principe had fallen from their motorbike, landing face first onto the street. The Doctors then turned their attention to Principe…


    Contrast to the girls’ concern, the little pup acted as though nothing was wrong – he playfully barked, wagged his tail and jumped around as the Doctors examined him. Full of puppy energy, the little guy was just happy to be getting the attention!

    The Doctors checked Principe very carefully, finding no other injuries and nothing that would lead them to be concerned for internal injuries. The Doctors then cleaned up his paws and face, finding no injury to the paws, but quite a laceration on his nose. Thankfully, the cut was quite superficial, despite its size, and seemed the only cut sustained from the fall. Principe also had a bruise forming under his chin, but had no evidence of broken bones.


    The Doctors gave Principe some painkillers to help with the pain, and some antibiotics to ward off infection. Luckily, that was all that the little pup needed after his motorbike accident. The Doctors were able to use the example to explain to the girls that they need to be careful with a dog on a motorbike – the same way they are careful themselves, and also to congratulate them for taking the initiative to come straight to the clinic.

    Principe went home in the arms of the girls, with the three a little more aware of the dangers of motorbikes!

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  9. The “Pelican”

    One Friday evening, as Dr Jochem was about to sit down to dinner, he received a call from the clinic vet tech regarding an emergency. Apparently a local resident had come across an injured pelican while on a boat, and reported it to the tech. At the same time, the TNR coordinator of the clinic arrived knocking on the Doctor’s door. She recalled a similar story – someone had called her to let her know that a resident had found an injured pelican who needs help. Jochem put down his meal, and rushed into the clinic to meet the clinic tech.

    The tech arrived shortly after, holding a large cardboard box. The local had apparently caught the pelican and put it in a box to stop it getting away. The team rushed into the operating room, box in hand, wondering what they were about to face considering the frantic nature of the callers.

    As they opened the box, the team were confronted with not a pelican, but a seagull. Rather shocked themselves, the confused team had to share a smile as the Doctor took the seagull from the box and checked him over for any injuries. The seagull did have a reasonable amount of blood on his feathers on his right side. As the Doctor inspected the wound, it seemed as though it was not too deep and had not caused the bird too much harm. Dr Jochem also checked the throat of the bird to ensure that there was no blood present. The Doctor applied some antibiotics to the wound and the seagull was kept in the clinic overnight to ensure that he would recover fully and that there were no other injuries not immediately visible.

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    The team went back to their respective homes, with a smile on their faces; proud of the community for their reaction after seeing injured wildlife. The next day the bird was looking even better, with a lot of energy, and the team set him free, watching the “pelican” fly off with such grace.`

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  10. The Darwin Animal Doctors and the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative

    The Galapagos National Park Directorate, with the help of the Galapagos Conservancy, is carrying out the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative to restore giant tortoise populations across the Galapagos Islands.

    Sadly, in the past giant tortoises were exploited as a food source and later for oil, which combined with habitat destruction and threats caused by introduced species, resulted in their numbers being drastically reduced. Of fifteen species of giant tortoise, only eleven remain today –most of these endangered. The giant tortoise has an important role in an island ecosystem, helping to shape the landscape, spread seeds and, creating the habitat for other Galapagos plants and animals found there.

    In 2015, Darwin Animal Doctors entered into an agreement with the National Park to be able to treat wildlife in certain situations. Since then, this agreement has developed into a working partnership where Darwin Animal Doctors became the on-call Wildlife Rescue, and work alongside the Park in various wildlife cases.


    The Park runs three rearing centres where tortoises are raised to help build up wild populations. Recently, at their centre on Santa Cruz Island one of the adult tortoises had decided not to eat. Without much knowledge available on how to treat a hunger striking giant tortoise, it was definitely a difficult case for Dr Andrea, the Park vet, who called in the Darwin Animal Doctors to help. Dr Carmen suspected an infection, and prescribed a combination of pain killers, anti-inflammatory and antibiotics. Replacing fluids was also important. As well as receiving subcutaneous fluids, Dr Andrea suggested to move the tortoise to a shallow pool where he could just sit and absorb water. After some further research, Dr Carmen agreed that this could be very helpful.

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    The day after the treatment, the Doctors received great news; the tortoise was happily eating again and sitting in his pool. Now, if the Park ever has another tortoise refuse his food, thanks to Dr Carmen and Dr Andrea, they have some guidelines on treatment.

    Not only is it great news to hear that  the tortoise is now back to full health, but Darwin Animal Doctors are very proud to have been involved in such a remarkable initiative. The Galapagos National Park Directorate and Galapagos Conservancy, are working every day to restore the famous Galapagos giant tortoises across the Archipelago. For our Doctors it was incredible to be able to be part of this history making project.


    For more information on the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative, please visit the Galapagos Conservancy website at;


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