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Helping animals participate in their own care

Hey everyone, Swing Keeper Adrianna here! You’ve heard a lot from me over in pandas, but lately I have been training with the other side of the Carnivore Department, and boy have we been busy! While most of our primary responsibilities as animal care professionals are the day-to-day duties like feeding, cleaning and training, we are also responsible for some aspects of the medical side of animal care.

For example, we assist the Zoo’s Vet Team while performing routine medical care such as vaccinations, blood draws, attaining weights of the animals, ultrasounds, and blood pressure readings (the list could go on!).  Using positive reinforcement training, the procedures just listed can be done while the animal is awake, and the animals participate voluntarily.  If the animal agrees to participate in the training, they get a food treat.  If they choose not to participate, nothing happens, and we will try again at a later time, but this is not a common occurrence as the animals are usually eager to participate.

There are also some instances where we do need to have the animal under anesthesia so that our veterinarians can get a closer look at what may be happening with the animal. Recently we did just that with our male sun bear Xander, and we were able to bring in a specialist for a dental exam! Procedures like that are an amazing opportunity to get a good overall look at an animal’s health and require an amazing team effort to make sure that everything goes smoothly! It has been incredible being able to see these procedures and all the amazing care and work to ensure their health and well-being here at the Zoo!

Adrianna L.
Swing Keeper II, Mammals

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