July 25, 2018

Behind the Scenes Tour at the Calgary Zoo

Article by Leah Brummelhuis (Hanington Lab, University of Calgary)

On July 25th, 2018, a group of HPI members had the opportunity to do a behind the scenes, private tour of the Calgary Zoo. The tour started in the Animal Health Centre where our group learned more about the practice of Veterinary medicine in a zoo setting. We saw, first-hand, the tools and instruments used to care for such a wide variety of animals, from the tiniest tarantula to the heaviest hippopotamus.

Our group also gained insight into how The Calgary Zoo contributes to conservation through programs such as captive breeding for release and head starting programs. In the Animal Health Centre there was a burrowing owl under treatment, who is part of one such conservation program. The Calgary Zoo also collaborates with other zoos to maintain their animal populations through carefully planned breeding and rescue. During our visit we met an orphaned moose calf that will eventually join the other animals in the Canadian Wilds habitats.

On the parasitic side of things, we learned about common parasites that affect animals both in and out of the Zoo. For many of these parasitic infections, Ivermectin or Moxidectin is the cure. As part of best care practices, animals are only treated when their health is adversely affected by a parasitic load. By limiting the frequency of treatments, one avoids promoting drug resistance in the parasite population.

This tour was a great opportunity to see The Calgary Zoo through the eyes of a vet. The day was informative and also lots of fun. Thank you to Dr. Sandie Black and Dr. Doug Whiteside for welcoming us and taking time out of their day to give this great tour.