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A Collaborative Exam for Fern and Benton
June 30, 2023

Black bears Fern and Benton are long-time residents of Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. And the veterinary teams at Northwest Trek and Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium have a long-standing history of joining forces.

So, when it was time for the bears’ triennial wellness exams, Northwest Trek head veterinarian Dr. Allison Case invited Zoo intern veterinarian Dr. Cassidy Soehnlein to participate.

Vet team examines Fern's eyes

The Exams

Routine wellness exams are a critical component of animal well-being. With regular check-ups, the veterinary staff (veterinarian) can monitor the health of Fern and Benton. They can also act quickly if any concerns arise.

Both black bears received vaccines, dental cleanings, blood and urine collection, grooming and ultrasounds in these exams. Dr. Case oversaw Fern’s exam and allowed Dr. Soehnlein to facilitate various tasks. This partnership fosters learning opportunities and facilitates growth for our intern veterinarians.

Dr. Cassidy Soehnlein give Fern dental cleaning

While Dr. Soehnlein performed the dental cleaning, Northwest Trek keepers Haley and Carly gave each bear a nail trim and groomed their coats. Veterinary technician Tracy also collected the needed blood samples. Dr. Case continued leading the team and the bears’ overall progress and health.

Keepers Haley and Carly give Fern a coat brush

Veterinary technician Tracy also took some time to practice blood draws through Benton’s paw with Keeper Haley. The bears are trained to voluntarily give keepers their paws as active participants in their healthcare.

Dr. Allison Case prepares to awaken Fern

The Partnership

This is not the only time the two sister zoos’ veterinary teams have come together. They have collaborated on exams for polar bears, tigers, moose and other large animals. During these collaborations, they may be filling in for a vet, tag teaming the exam, lending equipment or sharing their expertise.