During a dramatic rescue, volunteers battled against a powerful current and freezing cold waters to drag the injured wolf ashore. But when they placed the stethoscope on the animal’s chest, they heard no sign of life.
In January 2012 a team from the Center for Conservation and Research of Exotic and Wild Fauna attended to an unusual scene. Police had contacted the center – which is based in Monte Adone, Italy – about an injured wild animal. Specifically, some locals had spotted a wolf in a freezing river near the city of Bologna.
And when rescuers arrived at the scene, they spotted the wolf standing completely still in the icy water. His predicament was so bad, in fact, that he couldn’t even move, since he was paralyzed in his hind legs as well as cold and exhausted. And, on top of everything, someone had shot the beautiful animal 35 times with lead pellets.
So it was immediately clear to the animal rescuers that the wolf would die if they didn’t act quickly. With no time to lose, then, they dragged him from the bitter waters and onto the slopes of the river bank. However, to their utter dismay, they found that the poor creature had already stopped breathing.
But, having come so far, the team refused to give up on the wolf just yet. So there on the muddy bank, the kind strangers began CPR. As one man rhythmically compressed the animal’s chest, a woman blew into his mouth.
And miraculously, after a nervous few minutes, the wolf took a deep breath and opened his eyes. His rescuers named the animal Navarre. They then stretchered him away to the Monte Adone Rescue Center.
In an attempt to make Navarre more comfortable for the long journey, rescuers wrapped him in coats and used a hairdryer on his sodden fur. And when they reached the center, the team placed the majestic animal in front of a roaring fire. Slowly, then, the wolf began to warm up.
After that, vets placed Navarre on a drip. And although he was still suffering from hypothermia, thankfully the wolf began to regain consciousness. Still, the animal remained in critical condition, and so the center kept him in intensive care.
Amazingly, although Navarre had been shot 35 times, X-rays revealed that all his bones were intact. Somehow, the wolf had managed to escape his horrific ordeal largely unscathed. However, the beautiful beast wasn’t out of the woods just yet.
Tests revealed, for example, that Navarre suffered from extreme malnourishment and dehydration. His fur was also in a bad state, and vets suspected that mange had caused the wolf’s bald patches. Furthermore, the vets confirmed that he was suffering from partial paralysis in his hind legs.
Naturally, they were keen to get to the bottom of what was causing the animal’s paralysis, so neurologist Dr. Zeira conducted some tests. And Zeira discovered that the wolf had an infection, which was causing inflammation in his spine. In turn, this was compressing his spinal cord and causing the paralysis.
So in order to help restore Navarre’s mobility, the wolf received a number of treatments. These included homeopathic and ozone therapies as well as acupuncture. Thankfully, though, the animal seemed to respond well to his treatment.
After two months at the shelter, moreover, staff there saw dramatic improvements in Navarre. He managed to gain 11 pounds, and his fur had mostly grown back. And, perhaps even more amazingly, he was now able to walk.
“Thanks to a video camera placed in the enclosure, Navarre is monitored day and night without being disturbed,” revealed a statement from wildlife photographer Andrea Dalpian in 2012. “It’s still a long way, various diseases have weakened him a lot, but Navarre, thanks to his incredible will to live and [the] care he received, started to walk. [He is] improving gradually and giving good signs of recovery.”
Furthermore, and as a result of his progress, Navarre was placed in an outdoor pen where he could stretch his legs. “Given the serious paralysis of the hind limbs and severe muscle atrophy past, the greatest satisfaction is to see him walk again,” read a statement on the research center’s website. “[He is] gaining more and more strength.”
Meanwhile, experts kept a watchful eye over the wolf as he continued to improve. To prevent Navarre from becoming domesticated, though, they used a video system and kept human contact to a minimum. And, promisingly, all signs pointed to a swift recovery.
Still, Navarre still had a long road ahead of him. Ultimately, his rescuers hoped that one day the animal would return to the wild. But he’d need to regain his full health before they could be sure he’d survive a release.
Sadly, though, Navarre’s health later took a turn for the worse; in May 2012, in fact, the wolf suddenly became mysteriously very ill. Of course, the center’s staff then rushed the brave animal to a nearby veterinary clinic to have him checked.
But tragedy was just around the corner, as Navarre’s state quickly deteriorated. And despite the specialist treatment, there was no saving the poor wolf. Sadly, he passed away just hours after he was admitted to hospital and so never saw the wild again.
And while the center unfortunately couldn’t save Navarre, it is now committed to protecting other wolves in Bologna. Thanks to the organization’s dedication, in fact, many other injured animals have been reintroduced to the wild. So although Navarre didn’t survive his terrible ordeal, his spirit definitely lives on through his saviors’ work.