What’s it like to give annual physicals to a barn filled with animals? We followed zoo veterinarian Kami Fox as she visited the Indiana Family Farm this week to give check-ups to the tortoises, barn owl, and cow, and to supervise the donkeys’ yearly hoof-trimming.
Tortoises Norbert and Purdue went first. Dr. Fox examined their mouths, noses, eyes, skin, and shells. Zoo keepers condition the tortoises’ shells with baby oil every two weeks to keep them moisturized. Vet techs Maraiah Russell and Angie Slentz helped Dr. Fox draw blood for lab tests to assess overall health.
Next it was Lindbergh the barn owl’s turn. Dr. Fox examined Lindbergh’s wings and feet for abnormalities. Dr. Fox also performed a routine blood draw on Lindbergh, then the owl was weighed on a small scale. Lindbergh did not appear stressed during the exam but all the activity must have made her sleepy – afterwards she flew up to a high corner and took a nap!
Ellie the cow was the next patient. Ellie weighs over 800 pounds, making her exam a five-person job from start to finish. Keepers kept Ellie calm by offering a steady supply of apples and hay for munching. First came Ellie’s foot exam and hoof filing by a professional farrier, which encourages even weight distribution and contributes to joint health. Next, Dr. Fox felt Ellie’s body for abnormalities and to assess the fat-to-muscle ratio that the large bovine carries. She then listened to Ellie’s four stomachs with a stethoscope, checked her eyes and mouth, and drew a blood sample. Finally, it was time for Ellie’s yearly TB test and vaccines.
Donkeys Sarah and Sonja also received special care. It wasn’t time for their annual annual exam yet, but it was time for a visit from the farrier, who pronounced their feet healthy.
After the round of barnyard exams, Dr. Fox said, “There are no serious medical issues to report at this time. All the animals are in good condition. Norbert and Purdue’s oil application will be continued to keep their skin and shells conditioned and Ellie will remain on a controlled diet to help her stay lean and healthy. Of course, we’ll continue to monitor all of the animals year-round for any medical issues.”
When you visit the zoo this summer, stop by the Indiana Family Farm to say hello to your barnyard friends, and wish them continued good health!
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