Archive for the ‘Veterinary Care’ Category

YES ON MEASURE A1: An Insider’s Point of View

by | October 5th, 2012

By Rick Mannshardt, Oakland Zoo Employee

As someone who’s spent more than twenty years working at the Oakland Zoo, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know this place pretty well. It’s become a big part of my life. Working as a carpenter in the Zoo’s maintenance department, I keep all the fences and gates, roofs and doors, and hundreds of other structures around here in working order.  It takes a lot to keep a seven-day-a-week zoo running—you might say the animals are pretty hard on the furniture. Our tiny 6-person maintenance crew struggles to keep up with it all. The same goes for the Zoo in general.

Students excited about Measure A1

Even Our Monkeys Want to Vote YES

What we really need are more resources—and support from the community. Right now Measure A1 is poised to accomplish this. This November, you’ll have the chance to voice your support by voting yes for this badly needed initiative.  What it does is this: Measure A1 seeks voter approval to authorize an annual special parcel tax to maintain humane animal care and basic needs, and to maintain children’s educational programs. For a modest $12 per residential parcel and comparable rate for commercial property, the measure helps to ensure that the Oakland Zoo can continue its work in providing food, medical care, heating & cooling, and safe enclosures for its collection of animals, retain qualified veterinarians and animal specialists, care for wounded and endangered animals, support wildlife conservation—all this while keeping entrance fees affordable.  It also allows the Zoo to continue its level of excellence in offering children’s nature and science programming to students at a time when many schools are cutting back on such programs.

Measure A1 ensures humane animal care

But you don’t need to take our word for it. Numerous community leaders and business people have pledged their support for this important measure.  Here’s what just a few of them have to say:

“Yes on A1 allows the Oakland Zoo to continue quality care for zoo animals.”

Jim Maddy, President/CEO, National Association of Zoos and Aquariums

 

“Oakland Zoo animals deserve quality care. Many are retired circus animals or animals rescued from abuse—Yes on A1 ensures more animals can be rescued and get the care they need.” 

Laura Maloney, Co-Director, Performing Animals Welfare Society (PAWS)

 

“Yes on A1 supports the Oakland Zoo’s wildlife conservation and animal rescue efforts, saving animals wounded in the wild and giving sanctuary to endangered species.”

Ron Kagen, Founding member, Center for Zoo Animal Welfare

You might be asking: how do we know the money will be spent on these specific things? Measure A1 requires an Independent Citizens Oversight Committee to ensure funds are spent as promised to you, the taxpayer. By law, the A1 Oversight Committee must include Conservation/Environmental and Animal Rights representatives, the League of Women Voters, Taxpayer and Senior advocates, and a PTA representative.

It’s pretty straightforward. For just a dollar a month, you’re helping to ensure that the Oakland Zoo can

Lawn Signs Ready for Delivery

continue to provide:

  • Quality Humane Animal Care
  •  Basic Animal Needs
  •  Educational Programs for Children
  • Ongoing Zoo Affordability & Visitor Safety

And here’s an easy way to remember. In November, when you get to your local polling place, simply think “A for Animals.”  Then vote YES for Measure A1. With your support we can continue the valuable work we’ve been doing in the community these many years. Thank you and we hope to see you at the Oakland Zoo!

What Measure A1 means for….Bats!

by | September 25th, 2012

Did you know there are more than a 1000 different species of bats? Oakland Zoo has two of the largest species, the Island Flying Fox and the Malaysian Flying Fox. Both are diurnal fruit eating species and as the names suggest, they come from the Islands of Malaysia and Indonesia. Caring for species from all over the world means that many of them are not adapted to our Bay Area weather, so days that feel warm to us, may feel chilly to tropical or desert animals. Days that are cold for us, may feel warm to arctic or high altitude animals.

Flying Foxes are no different; their bodies are adapted to warm, humid, tropical weather. They find our summers pleasant, but winters are just a touch too cold for them! To combat this problem, zookeepers maintain large night quarters which are kept at a constant 75 degrees. This way, our bats are kept warm and comfortable no matter what the Bay Area brings us. However, bats also love sunshine (who doesn’t!) and spend a great deal of their daylight hours outside basking during the summer. In the winter, they are frequently unable to go outside even on sunny days due to the cold temperatures. If Measure A1 passes, the zoo will be able to provide outdoor heating sources for the bats in the winter, so they can bask in the sunlight and stay toasty warm no matter how cold it is outside. The zoo will be able to provide the best of both worlds and maintain a high standard of care and welfare.

Please consider voting “Yes” on Measure A1 on November 6th.

The Conservation Expedition Returns

by | August 29th, 2011

After three weeks in Uganda and Rwanda, our fifteen Oakland Zoo expeditioners safely returned. We had an epic adventure! This blog is a general overview – with detailed blogs to come.

Eco-travel with the Oakland Zoo Conservation team is a bit different than most safaris. We do go on safari, of course, but we give each safari, each activity, and each day a dose of authenticity – a genuine experience of African culture and conservation. Our participants join us because they are passionate about conserving wildlife, and our partnerships in these countries allow them to jump in and do just that.

We started at the Ugandan Wildlife Education Centre  in Entebbe with a hug and tour from Henry Opio, an animal keeper who spent time at the Oakland Zoo earlier in the year. We brought Henry and his crew a much needed  primate net that could be used for emergency capturing (apparently one monkey was quite the escape artist).

Onward, we spend some time with the Budongo Snare Removal Project . We walked through the gorgeous forest with the snare removal team, visited a school to exchange a few songs and dances, and listened to poetry written by their conservation club. We participated in an eye-opening meeting of ex-hunters who have renounced poaching to instead raise goats. A day I will never forget was when we set up a goat clinic for the participating villages. Under the leadership of Dr. Goodnight of the  Oakland Zoo and Dr. Carol of the Budongo project, we de-wormed over 300 goats!

The beautiful Semliki Valley Wildlife Reserve and lodge were next, with cushy couches to take in views of the expansive savannah. Game drives were in an old-school open truck and delicious meals were served by lantern light at a giant dining room table.

The Kibale forest was our next adventure – and our crew enjoyed chimp treks and bird walks in the lush forests. Our special treat there was a visit to the Kibale Fuel Wood Project. It was inspiring to see how this innovative project protects forests. Highlights were attending their outdoor movie night, visiting their science center, dancing along with their talented dancers and learning how to make their colorful paper beads.

At Queen Elizabeth Park we lost count of the number of elephants, hippopotamus and birds we saw. Spending time with Dr. Ludwig Seifert, lion conservation expert, gave us insight into issues facing predators that live near pastoral communities. Seeing a pride of lions out in the bush and up in a tree was breathtaking.

We then crossed the border into Rwanda where our focus was the endangered Mountain Gorilla. Trekking to see these majestic great apes is a once in a life time experience – and spending time with the International Gorilla Conservation Project, the Mountain Gorilla Vet Project and the Virunga Artisans offered us the big picture once again.

We returned with more than great art and wildlife photos, but with great connections, insight and wisdom that can only be gained when you jump in!

Turtle University

by | June 28th, 2011

Newly hatched western pond turtle

Its turtling season at the Oakland Zoo again! Each summer our zookeepers team up with biologists and students from Sonoma State University to study the western pond turtle. Turtle nesting season is in full swing and California’s only native aquatic freshwater turtle has been an enigma to researchers for years. This is the fourth consecutive year that zookeepers have spent in Lake County and our knowledge of this species of special concern has increased exponentially. Here is just a short run down of a few of the things we have learned about western pond turtles through our collaborative research:
First, we were surprised to discover just how dry the nests were. Aquatic turtles are usually expected to have very moist nests, but not our western pond turtles. Based on our observations at the site, we created a very dry vermiculite mixture in which to incubate the eggs we collected. Several experts expressed concern about the lack of moisture in the mixture, but our guess was correct and we had a 90% hatch rate the first year.
One little known fact about many reptile species, western pond turtles included, is that the sex of the hatchling is determined by the temperature at which the egg is incubated. Along with our dry vermiculite mixture, we also set up five separate incubators at five different temperatures. The hatchlings were carefully marked with numbered dots so we knew exactly which clutch and incubator they came from. The hatchlings were then raised here at the zoo for about ten months, until they were big enough for a small endoscopic surgery to determine their sex. This data was then correlated with the incubation data and we now know the exact temperatures that produce male turtles versus female turtles.

Dr. Andrea Goodnight uses an endoscope to identify a turtle's sex.

As time went on, our project expanded and we also began to incubate nests in the field. This requires careful placement of high tech temperature and humidity sensors inside the nests and then covering the nests to secure them against predators. The wide range of temperatures in even a single day took us by surprise. Who would have guessed a difference of up to fifty degrees in one twenty-four hour period.
This is a project that is near and dear to our hearts, not only because it is a native species, but also because it is a project that zookeepers can be directly involved in. Just days ago, two keepers went to the lake to use telemetry equipment to track nesting females while other keepers were here at the zoo caring for last year’s hatchlings, who will be released at the end of this month. As we continue to progress in this conservation project, we hope to learn even more about this special animal.

Zoo Animal Dentistry – the Team Approach

by | December 3rd, 2010

Dama GazelleWhat does the veterinary team at the Oakland Zoo do when we determine an animal needs a special procedure out of the normal scope of the zoo’s hospital? We get creative!

Throughout the years, our dama gazelle, Bhoke, has been treated successfully at the zoo for multiple dental infections, which are not uncommon for this species. Unfortunately, this summer a tooth root infection in the molars at the back of his lower jaw became unresponsive to our therapy. After consulting with dental specialists at the UC Davis Veterinary School, we determined that Bhoke needed oral surgery.

Oakland Zoo Vet team transports gazelle for surgery.

Easier said than done. The jaws of a ruminant like Bhoke only open a few inches, making it impossible to reach the back teeth except from the outside of the face. Unfortunately, this approach to surgery is complicated by anatomy – we have to navigate around all those wonderful nerves and vessels that make Bhoke’s face and jaw function. Wouldn’t it be great if we had a roadmap of the area?

With today’s medical technology, just such a roadmap is available – in the form of a CT scan. While it is not practical for the zoo to own and operate our own CT scanner, the veterinary school has this technology. Sounds perfect, right? Easier said than done (again). For the two-hour trip to UC Davis, the procedure, and the trip back to the zoo, Bhoke would need to be under anesthesia. By a conservative estimate, Bhoke’s anesthesia time would be at least 6 hours…not to mention if we ran into rush hour Bay Area traffic!

Preparing for CT Scan

Luckily, a closer alternative did exist. Our colleagues at Berkeley Dog and Cat Hospital generously donated their CT scanner, technician and veterinary time, and surgical space. So, on Nov 8, the Oakland Zoo veterinary staff, Bhoke the gazelle and the UC Davis dentistry staff became quite possibly the most exotic animals that the Berkeley Dog and Cat Hospital staff has ever seen!

The CT scan revealed the extent of Bhoke’s dental disease and unfortunately, revealed a second abscess in his nose of which we were not previously aware. His last molar on the left side of his lower jaw was determined to be too diseased to save and the dentists were able to extract this tooth. We drained the infection from his nose and now have a better idea of the overall health of his teeth.

Since his surgery, Bhoke is making a wonderful recovery. He is back at the zoo, patrolling his exhibit and eating his favorite foods! You may see the evidence of his surgery by the shaved fur on the side of his face. While we know he still has dental problems, we are happy with his progress and hope to successfully manage his teeth for a long time to come!

Dental surgery on gazelle.

About Berkeley Dog and Cat Hospital:

www.berkeleydogandcat.com

Berkeley Dog & Cat Hospital is a well-established, full-service, small animal veterinary hospital providing comprehensive medical, surgical and dental care. We provide a broad spectrum of diagnostic procedures through in-house testing and the use of external laboratories. We also work closely with local practices when special diagnostic procedures are required. The facility includes a well-stocked pharmacy, in-hospital surgery suite, in-house x-ray capabilities, a closely supervised hospitalization area, and indoor boarding kennels with outdoor walking areas.

At Berkeley Dog & Cat Hospital we strive to offer not only sound advice, but also optimal veterinary care, thus allowing you the enjoyment of your companion for a maximum number of years. Our job is not only to treat your pet when he or she isn’t feeling well, but also to help you learn how to keep your best friend happy and healthy. We are proud of what we are doing today, and equally proud of the rich history of over a century of helping animals in Berkeley.

Zoo Population Management

by | December 22nd, 2009

Andrea L. Goodnight, Associate Veterinarian Photo credit: Nancy Filippi

Open space is a prime commodity in almost any society. Who doesn’t like to “get away from it all” by finding a place where peace and quiet rule? At the Oakland Zoo, we strive to provide our animals with spacious enclosures, including areas that allow them to retreat from others. However, even with these spacious exhibits, there isn’t a lot of room for animal families to expand in size. Left unchecked, reproduction could result in overcrowded and unhealthy exhibit environments, decrease genetic diversity, and prevent natural social or family groups from living together. The bottom line is that there’s just not enough room in captivity for all of those animals.

In order to prevent such overpopulation, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) formed a Wildlife Contraception Center in 1989. Based on the recommendations of reproductive physiologists, veterinarians, and animal husbandry experts, this group advises AZA institutions on the best ways, with minimal risk and discomfort for the animals, to prevent overpopulation in their collections. As an AZA accredited facility, the Oakland Zoo benefits from this expertise.

How do we accomplish contraception at the Zoo? Among the many possibilities are oral medications, including feed additives, liquids, or pills that animals consume daily. Some animals are given implants of contraceptives that may last for several years. Many hoofstock receive a vaccination that prevents the female’s eggs from being fertile. All of these methods are reversible, in case future breeding may be warranted. Surgical methods of contraception are also available. We consider these when permanent contraception is necessary or when disease is present in the reproductive organs.

Here are some examples of contraception in place at the Oakland Zoo: all non-breeding female giraffes receive liquid melengestrol acetate daily in a food treat and all non-breeding female chimpanzees receive a daily pill combination of norethindrone and estradiol (a human medication). Both male lions had vasectomies when they were younger. This technique was chosen in order to keep their hormones and male characteristics, including their manes, intact.

Zoo animals are not the only ones at risk of overpopulation. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, millions of unwanted dogs and cats are euthanized each year because there are not enough homes for them. You can make a difference. Surgical contraception, by spay or neuter, not only helps decrease the pet population, but it also benefits each individual animal. When pets are spayed or neutered early in life, aggressive or unwanted behavior due to hormone cycles may be eliminated and the incidence of several types of reproductive cancers almost disappears.

Working together, AZA institutions strive to prevent overpopulation and maintain genetic diversity throughout the animal kingdom. The Oakland Zoo is proud to support the mission of promoting a natural balance of animal and human populations.