Skunk Caught in Elevator Recovers at WildCare

Skunk Caught in Elevator Recovers at WildCare

No, we haven’t opened a skunk beauty salon!

The video above shows Dr. Sorem, WildCare's staff Veterinarian, and Melanie Piazza, our Director of Animal Care and Hospital Programs, working to clean industrial machine grease from the coarse fur of a skunk.

This Striped Skunk was rescued after being stuck inside an elevator shaft for at least three days!

The homeowners had been smelling that distinctive skunk odor, and they thought the scent was coming from the shaft of their residential elevator. They called Marin Humane to investigate, assuming the poor animal had died at the bottom of their elevator shaft.

However, when the officer opened the panel and shone his light into the elevator shaft, he was astonished to see the skunk hanging from his tail halfway up the shaft! Even more astonishing, he could see that the animal was still alive!

Apparently the long, thick fur of the skunk's tail had gotten tangled in a moving part that pulled the animal’s entire body up off the ground, only to jam and trap him, upside down and unable to escape.

The Marin Humane officer quickly extracted the skunk, gently using scissors to cut the tail fur tangled in the machinery. He brought the animal to WildCare's Wildlife Hospital.

After sedating the skunk for x-rays, our team also bathed him to remove the thick, black, sooty industrial grease covering most of his fur.

The skunk's body was badly bruised, riddled with small abrasions and severe edema from struggling hanging upside-down for so long, but, amazingly, Medical Staff found no fractures or serious injuries.

View the photo gallery below to see him getting his bath in the WildCare Clinic.

The skunk was very weak in his hind end on admission and was found to have a fractured tail.

The tail had been tangled in the elevator mechanism at the fracture site, causing constriction. Our team worried that the tail had been without proper blood flow for the days the skunk was stuck. Between the fracture and the risk of injuries due to ischemia (restriction in blood supply), the Medical Staff was concerned that they would have to amputate half of the skunk's tail.

Astonishingly, with medications to increase blood flow and for pain, and with careful monitoring, the tail has healed well. It is a bit crooked because of the fracture, but the skunk can still lift his tail to spray, which is crucial since this is a skunk's main defense in the wild.

The skunk has been moved to a more natural outdoor enclosure, which allows him to continue to build back muscle and stamina in his hind end and tail after being stuck in such a precarious position.

Although this skunk patient will require more time to regain his strength, he is progressing well and we expect him to make a full recovery and be released back into the wild in the next few weeks!

Photos and video by Dion Campbell