Urban sprawl may allow us to actualise the “great Aussie dream” of a big house with a big back yard, but at worst it can be a nightmare for our wildlife, with motor-vehicle accidents and predation by domestic animals resulting in countless injuries and fatalities daily.
According to Robert Johnson, based at South Penrith Veterinary Clinic in Western Sydney, veterinarians play an important role in treating and rehabilitating wildlife that has come off second best in such encounters.
Jane Doe, a female pink-tongued skink (Cyclodomorphus gerrardii) presented to Johnson following a dog attack in a suburban back yard. For the uninitiated, pink tongued skinks are extremely similar in appearance to Eastern Blue-Tongue lizards, distinguished by a more slender body, a narrower tail, striking cross-band markings and of course a pink – as opposed to blue – tongue, hence the name. They’re just a lot less common. Continue reading An emergency caesarean with a twist
A study examining the role of wildlife species as sentinels for rat lungworm suggests an expanded distribution of the parasite, and the need for pet owners and wildlife carers to take precautions in order to minimise transmission of the disease to animals in care.
Rat lungworm, or Angiostrongylus cantonensis, was the most common cause of neurological disease . . . → Read More: Wildlife sentinels reveal expanding distribution of rat lungworm
An international research team has identified the gene associated with primary hypokalaemia in Burmese cats.
Hypokalaemia, or subnormal serum potassium ion concentration, is typically a secondary disorder but may occur as a primary problem, most notably as hypokalaemic periodic paralysis in humans and horses, and feline hypokalaemic polymyopathy, also known as Burmese hypokalaemic periodic polymyopathy (BHP) due . . . → Read More: Genome search identifies cause of hypokalaemia in Burmese cats
There’s something exciting about exploratory abdominal surgery. Whether you’re in small animal, large animal or exotics practice, you can’t always predict whether the procedure will be routine or whether you will “peek and shriek”, to borrow an increasingly popular phrase being bandied around at veterinary conferences and surgery workshops.
That element of the unknown is increased when dealing with wildlife species which traditionally receive less veterinary intervention – often not until they are at death’s door.
Wildlife species bred in captivity are monitored closely and represent a population for whom veterinary access and intervention are more accessible and potentially more timely. But when things go wrong with a captive-bred animal which just happens to be an endangered species, whose ongoing health and reproductive capacity is vital not only for the individual animal but for the future of their kind, there’s additional pressure to restore the animal to perfect health. Continue reading Clinical Zoo: Helping out a gecko with no name
A female rhinoceros exhibiting symptoms of a condition which claimed the lives of four of her conspecifics appears to have overcome her illness, despite exhaustive testing failing to identify the aetiological agent.
The mystery illness claimed the lives of four adult White Rhinoceros at Taronga Western Plains Zoo within a period of weeks in March, sparking an international investigation. Affected rhinos exhibited a range of signs, particularly neurological signs including stumbling and ataxia prior to their deaths.
The female also exhibited these signs, but survived the illness along with two other males which remain unaffected. Last month the zoo reported that the female White Rhino had improved and was assessed to have a good prognosis following intensive monitoring and supportive care after exhibiting neurological signs. All other affected animals had died despite intervention. The two remaining males, neither of whom have exhibited symptoms, remain healthy. No other animals at the zoo – including the black rhinoceros – have experienced the illness.
The intensive, eight-week-long investigation, lead by the Zoo, involved collaboration with Rhinoceros specialists in Africa and North America, Government virologists and veterinary services as well as multiple pathology laboratories.
A Working Group, consisting of the State’s most experienced veterinarians and pathologists including the Department of Primary Industries Chief Veterinary Officer was established to assist with the investigation. Continue reading Female recovers, but fatal white rhino disease remains a mystery
Douglas Bryden, AM, was made Companion of the University of Charles Sturt University, in recognition of his role in the development of CSU’s veterinary degree.
Bryden was one of the early consultants called upon to develop the degree program – before most people knew about it.
As Bryden recalled, it was a bit like being asked to participate in a secret-service mission.
“I got a phone call one evening in 2002 from Wagga Wagga asking would I come down and discuss something,” he recalls. “I didn’t know what it was they wanted to discuss or why, but I knew from the questions they were asking that it was really important.” Continue reading Decorated veterinarian made Companion of Charles Sturt University
A visiting feline specialist has challenged what he labelled as “the greatest of all feline myths”: namely that chronic vomiting in the cat is normal.
Gary Norsworthy, based the Alamo Feline Health Centre in Texas, says that all too frequently chronic vomiting in cats is dismissed as result of eating too quickly, anxiety, hairballs or the fact that the cat is “just a puker”.
But Norsworthy presented compelling data at the Centre for Veterinary Education’s annual Feline Medicine conference which suggests that vomiting reflects significant small bowel disease in the cat.
“The typical history of these cats is that they are lifelong vomiters, often with a recent increase in the frequency of vomiting,” Norsworthy said. “It might have been occasional for months to years, then one to three times a month, and now its daily but the cat seems well and has a good appetite.” Continue reading ‘Normal’ feline vomiting – is there such a thing?
Photo: Taronga Zoo
When three Sumatran tiger cubs were born at Taronga Zoo on a cold August morning last year, keepers and veterinarians breathed a sigh of relief.
Sumatran Tigers are critically endangered, with as few as 400 estimated to be living in the wild. Only seven per cent of their original habitat remains, with palm oil plantations the major threat to the forests they live in. On top of that, tiger body parts continue to be used in traditional medicines, and tiger pelts fetch high prices on the black market. In fact, so great is the demand for tiger pelts that in 2009 a female tiger was poisoned, killed and skinned while in an exhibit at Rimbo Zoo in Indonesia (a suspect has since been arrested).
For these reasons, Taronga’s three cubs represent a staggering one per cent of the existing Sumatran Tiger population. Over the years the Zoo has made a significant contribution to Sumatran Tiger conservation, with the breeding program yielding 30 tigers since 1979. But the lead up to this birth wasn’t straightforward.
Father Satu was imported from Stuttgart Germany at the age of 18 months as part of the international zoo breeding program for Sumatran Tigers. Too young to breed, he spent around 18 months acclimatising at Western Plains Zoo before arriving at Taronga Zoo in January 2008.
When he did arrive he was kept in his own enclosure, as tigers are generally solitary animals. However, he had auditory and olfactory contact with Jumilah and was allowed into her enclosure when she was in oestrus. Continue reading Clinical Zoo: Tales from the tiger boudoir
It is well established that veterinarians suffer a higher suicide rate than the general adult population.
Research by former Australian Veterinary Association President Helen Jones found that veterinarians were four times more likely to take their lives when compared to non-veterinarians.
In absolute numbers, the number of veterinarians who commit suicide is not high, however, compared with the average suicide rate for the general population, it is high. Suicide in our profession is the tip of an iceberg that none of us can afford to ignore. It is likely that far greater numbers of veterinarians suffer from burnout – physical and psychological fatigue brought about by chronic stress and anxiety. Continue reading Burnout: an occupational hazard we cannot ignore
Rescuing Moon bears from China’s infamous bile farms was always going to be a harrowing experience. Whichever way you look at it the practice of bile farming is brutal and inhumane. But Animal’s Asia senior veterinarian Heather Bacon is hopeful for the future of the bears – and wouldn’t trade her position for the world.
The Animals Asia Foundation is a Hong Kong-based animal welfare charity founded by Jill Robinson in 1998. While it runs a broad range of animal welfare programs, the most prominent is the rescue and rehabilitation of Asiatic black bears (Ursus selenarctos) which are farmed for their bile. Asiatic black bears, also known as Moon bears, are listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Appendix 1, the most critical category of endangerment. There may be as few as 16,000 in the wild – but it is estimated that up to 7000 are kept in bile farms in China alone. Continue reading Clinical Zoo: Setting free the bears