Feb 122012

Veterinarians and keepers were working on a sedated female ibex who was having problems with giving birth. The female had been in labor for hours and was exhausted from trying to pass the baby, which was twisted around so as to prevent it from fitting into the birth canal. To complicate matters the female was a small individual and the baby was large. Also, although they didn’t know it until later, the baby had been dead for several days and was starting to decompose.

One of the vets had managed to reach up the birth canal and get the baby untangled. The head and front legs were in the canal but the shoulders were stuck and the vet couldn’t pull hard enough. She asked one of the keepers to grab hold of the legs and help her pull.

After a few minutes of futile tugging, they decided that they needed more muscle. One of the other keepers present was a big, burly fellow so he was the obvious choice. He was more than happy to help. He was fairly new at the zoo and this was the first time he had ever participated in this sort of procedure.

He knelt down next to the others and got a good grip on one of the legs. Tugging firmly yet gently so as not to cause any damage, they began to pull. Soon someone commented that they could feel it start to move. Suddenly, the baby’s shoulder gave way and the new keeper found himself holding the unattached leg in his hands. His face expressed quite plainly that this possibility had never crossed his mind; in fact, for a few seconds he looked as if he might lose his lunch.

The vet, however, was thrilled. It was the shoulders that were stuck; if they could get the other one off too the baby would practically slide out. So, having fought once to keep his lunch down, that keeper gamely did the same for the other leg. Only this one was worse because he knew what to expect.

In the end, though, as the veterinarian had predicted, with both shoulders gone, the baby was pulled out easily. And, although she was no doubt sore for a while, the female ibex came through fine.

Feb 122012

Because all of the regular cages were filled, a young orangutan in the animal hospital was being housed temporarily in a free-standing cage in the hallway, He seemed to enjoy that location from which he could keep an eye on all of the activity going on around him. His cage was across the hall from the entrance to the cage area, so everyone coming and going had to pass right by his cage.

Whenever keepers entered the cage area they would stop to put on one of the sets of yellow overalls that were hanging next to the door. The orang seemed to find this particularly interesting.

One day keepers attempting to enter the cage area found the door blocked from the inside. They forced the door open far enough to squeeze through and found the orang cage wedged into the corner behind the door.

By rocking back and forth the ape had managed to move the cage completely across the hall. Keepers were puzzled, however, as to why he would want to do such a thing. Puzzled, that is, until they looked inside the cage. There sat the orang, perfectly contented, wearing a pair of yellow overalls.

Feb 112012

At many zoos peafowl are allowed to roam loose on the grounds where they pretty much fend for themselves to find food and shelter. Keepers in the animal hospital were having a hard time getting an ailing peacock to eat. They offered him every sort of normal fowl food that they could think of and he refused them all.

Finally, they stopped to consider what sort of food the bird had been used to eating. They went to a nearby food stand and got some popcorn and French fries. The bird, of course, began eating immediately.

Feb 092012

A veterinarian was preparing to sedate a male African buffalo by using a CO2-powered pistol. The bull was being relatively cooperative. He was pacing around the stall, but he wasn’t moving very fast and each time he turned he would present the vet with a good shot at his massive flank. The only thing that showed his agitation was his tail, which was whipping from side to side and slapping against his flanks.

As the buffalo made the turn, the vet took aim at the exposed flank, and fired. The dart, which otherwise would have been a perfect hit, stuck in the bull’s tail as it flipped around. Reacting to the pain, the animal bellowed once and spun around. As he turned he gave his tail a couple of quick flicks, dislodging the dart, and sending it sailing out through the bars where it very nearly stuck the vet who had fired it only seconds before.

Editors note:
Although the details of this event are lost to time, it is quite likely that the drug in the dart was an opiate derivative known as M-99. It is very effective on hoofed animals and has the added benefit of being quickly reversible. At the completion of the procedure an antagonistic drug can be injected that brings the animal out of sedation quickly reducing the risk of stumbling or falling. A drawback, however is that it is quite toxic to primates, including humans. Had that dart hit any of the nearby people even the slight residue remaining in the needle could have been a serious problem.