Reindeer Sits Out Christmas After Surgery At Grafton Vet Hospital

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Photo Credit: marcserraproductions
Willow, a female reindeer from Stone Zoo, underwent knee surgery at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. Photo Credit: Alonso NIchols/Tufts University
A reindeer from Stone Zoo is walked through the Hospital for Large Animals before knee surgery at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. Photo Credit: Alonso NIchols/Tufts University
Willow, a female reindeer, stands with Dayle Taylor, Senior Keeper at Stone Zoo, before her upcoming knee surgery at the Foster Hospital for Small Animals. Photo Credit: Alonso NIchols/Tufts University

GRAFTON, Mass. – A reindeer from the Stone Zoo underwent knee surgery at the Tufts University veterinary hospital Thursday, getting back in shape just before Christmas -- but it's highly unlikely she'll be called into service to pull Santa's sleigh.

The 1 1/2-year-old female, Willow, was brought to the Foster Hospital for Small Animals at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University on Thursday suffering from a luxating patella. The condition is caused when a kneecap dislocates.

The Cummings School’s surgical team, led by Clinical Associate Professor Robert McCarthy, a veterinary surgeon specializing in orthopedic and soft tissue surgery, performed the procedure in just over one hour and said the reindeer is doing well. McCarthy anticipates a full recovery with no limp on the affected leg.

“We are very grateful for the generosity of the entire team at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, especially to Dr. Robert McCarthy and anesthesiologist Dr. Emily McCobb, for the wonderful care they provided to Willow," said Dr. Eric Baitchman, Zoo New England director of veterinary services. We always strive to provide the highest level of care for our animals and I knew a procedure like this would require the expertise of someone like Dr. McCarthy. Today, Willow is looking comfortable and already recuperating well."

Now back home, Willow is being housed in an off-exhibit space where she will be monitored closely and kept comfortable during her recovery, according to a press release from Zoo New England, which manages the Stoneham-based Stone Zoo. Her recovery will take approximately six to eight weeks. Zoo staff is hopeful that visitors will be able to see her back on exhibit at Stone Zoo in February.

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