What happens to wild animals with broken bones?

Lancet. 1986 Jan 4;1(8471):29-31. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(86)91905-7.


Orthopaedic teaching suggests that long-bone fractures in wild animals are not uncommon and that they can heal naturally. This paper investigates this statement. The unsystematic collection of specimens for museums has perpetuated the idea that these fractures are not uncommon. Many fractures in adult skeletons seem to have occurred while the animal was still young. A review of the original skeletons in two museums does not support the view that major long-bone fractures in adult wild animals heal well. Contemporary observations on primates in the wild over long periods show that fractures of long bones in adult wild primates are rare and usually fatal, while falls which might be associated with juvenile fractures are much more common and may well be the source of the many well-healed fractures found in museum collections.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild
  • Fractures, Bone / veterinary*
  • Primates
  • Skeleton
  • Wound Healing