By Janet Tappin Coelho
A deer has made a miraculous recovery and been released back into the wild after being run over and impaled inside a car grille in a motorway accident in Brazil.
The animal was wedged deep inside the bodywork and underneath the engine as the motorist continued on his journey for some 12 miles, apparently unaware the creature was jammed between the front bumper.
A video shows the grim moment a rescuer finds the adult brown brocket embedded in the vehicle and drags the beast, which screams and bleats in agony, out by its two protruding hind legs.
Surprisingly vets found the deer had no fractures or internal injuries, but it was so traumatised by the ordeal it was at risk of dying from the shock.
Wildlife experts at Gramado Zoo, in the south of the country, nursed the male brocket back to full health following its horrific accident on June 3.
And last week vets recorded the moment they returned the creature to its natural habitat but kept the exact time, location and release date secret to protect its welfare.
At the time, the motorist involved in the collision was travelling with his family and claimed he didn’t realise the animal had been sucked into the vehicle by the impact when it leapt out in front of the car on the ERS-453 highway in Rio Grande do Sul, south Brazil.
It was only when he stopped at a petrol station around 12 miles later that two sportsmen, Rodrigo Gross and Samuel Germann, who were returning from a motocross competition, alerted him to the trapped passenger.
The car owner who claimed to have been driving at 40mph when the incident happened, was astonished to see the size of the animal when it emerged and surprised it had survived under the bonnet next to a hot engine for nearly twenty minutes.
Gross, who filmed his friend wrenching the animal out of the vehicle, said: “We had just arrived at the gas station when the car pulled in with the animal embedded in the grille.
“We weren’t sure if it was still alive and Samuel was concerned that if it was, we could make matters worse.
“Some people suggested that we should put it out of its misery and kill it anyway. But from the moment we heard the animal scream out in terror, we decided it should be given every chance to survive,” he said.
Environmental protection agents from the wildlife sector (Sefau-Sema) were called out and administered first aid to the distressed animal before transferring it to a veterinary hospital at Gramado Zoo.
Renan Alves Stadler, technical operations chief at the zoo said: “We began urgent care straight away when it arrived around 10pm that night. The animal was in very bad state with bruising and swelling, but to our surprise it had no broken bones or fractures. We gave it some medication to relieve the pain, then sedated it and took it to a quarantine area in the zoo.”
Ultrasound exams and x-rays ruled out internal injuries, but the major concern was that it could suffer capture myopathy – a disease triggered by acute stress in wild animals, particularly deers, after they are captured or handled following injury.
“In the first 48 hours, the risk was it could have fibrillary heart contractions, which could lead to death,” Stadler explained.
Vets fought for more than a month to save the brown brocket with intensive round the clock care.
They kept the animal hydrated and fed it a serum intravenously, which was made up of a special feed containing papaya, cabbage, grass and other supplements.
The animal gradually regained its strength and was given a full check over before vets decided it was fit enough to be returned to the wild.
“When we receive an animal, we always work towards reintroducing them back into the natural habitat,” explained Stadler.
“Many wild creatures are not so lucky. They suffer injuries that make it impossible for them to survive alone. Our success at rehabilitating this animal was due to a rapid rescue, agile communication, our efforts and a dose of luck. It was a mini miracle,” he said.
It’s estimated that one million animals are run over every day in Brazil with a shocking annual total of 475 million according to government statistics.
Gramado Zoo is planning to use the success of this case to create an awareness campaign to reduce the numbers of wildlife deaths on the roads.