Movers & Shakers!

December 16, 2009 § 1 Comment


With just nine days to go ‘til Christmas, reindeers have once again been making the headlines at Edinburgh zoo! However, they haven’t been helping Santa; instead they’ve been busy pioneering new veterinary techniques! Read on to find out more about that, and all the moves that will be taking place in the zoo over the next weeks.

In preparation for the arrival of a new species to the zoo in early summer 2010 (still to be announced!) work will soon be commencing on the old polar bear enclosure, and the surrounding area. However, before this happens, many of our zoo animals living nearby will need to move from their current enclosures, to temporary accommodation. This maybe because their enclosure will be lost or modified in the changes that are to be made, or it may just be to minimise the disruption and disturbance to the animals themselves (none of us like living next door to a building site!)

So, over the next few weeks, you may spot the following animals moving:

  • The pair of red-fronted macaws, along with 3 ocellated turkey and a pair of Azara’s agouti will join the thick-billed parrots in their enclosure, next to the monkey house.
  • The pair of argus pheasants will move to the aviaries behind the Rhino house, and in turn the family of Cochin Chinese red jungle fowl will move from those aviaries to Rainbow Landings.
  • The swamp wallabies will be moved from their enclosure opposite the Darwin’s Rhea near the front of the zoo to the enclosure opposite (the now infamous!) Barbary Rock.
  • And finally, the pair of kookaburra will unfortunately have to move off-show for the duration of the works.

Phew! We are sorry for any inconvenience that this shuffling around may cause you. However, we can promise that it will all be worth it in the end! Watch this space for more news on changes and new additions to our collection here at Edinburgh Zoo!

This chap won’t be on show for a wee while!

On a similar note, we can also report that two Barbary macaques have recently been moved down to the monkey house, from Barbary rock. The pair in question includes the male that recently escaped the rock enclosure, along with an older female to keep him company! Why not pay these cheeky pair a visit in the monkey house, and get a close up look at this iconic species?

Banished from Barbary rock!

Meanwhile, you may have spotted one of our reindeers making the headlines earlier this week! Eskimo, a male reindeer has recently received life-saving treatment making him the first reindeer in history to receive keyhole surgery (and just in time for Christmas!).

Zoo keepers and vets had noticed that 8 year old Eskimo had retained one of his testes inside his abdomen. They believed that this was affecting Eskimo’s production and flow of testosterone and, as a result, he was showing submissive behaviour and being bullied by the other male reindeer in the herd. He had also started to show some abnormal and delayed antler growth and development, sparking fears that the retained testicle may have been developing into a tumour, giving off abnormal hormones, and that this could become life-threatening.

Thankfully, zoo vets were able to remove the retained testicle using pioneering keyhole surgery techniques. Removing the testicle will halt any abnormal hormone production and the vets were relieved to find that the retained testicle had not yet developed a tumour. Hopefully Eskimo will return to full vigour just in time for Christmas!

Although keyhole surgery is routine in humans, the standard procedure in animals is still open abdominal surgery.  The minimally invasive nature of keyhole surgery means there are numerous benefits for animals and humans alike, such as a reduction in post-operative pain, a faster recovery and reduced post-operative care.  It also has a decreased risk of infection after surgery and a lower risk of any wound complications. 

Romain Pizzi, leading veterinary surgeon for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, based at Edinburgh Zoo, said:

The operation was been a great success and Eskimo has made a speedy recovery. We were especially pleased with how quickly Eskimo recovered after surgery, he was standing and happily eating lichen again within 10 minutes of recovery from anaesthesia. He hardly seemed to notice he had even had surgery. This would simply not have been possible with traditional open abdominal surgery, as the long wound would have been much more painful and debilitating.

Keyhole surgery is still very uncommon in veterinary medicine, even amongst common species such as dogs, cats and horses, so for keyhole surgery to be carried out on a reindeer shows a great advancement in veterinary surgery. I hope Eskimo’s experience helps raise its profile and encourage more veterinary surgeons to look into it as a standard surgical procedure.”

Eskimo, on the road to recovery, with zoo vet, Romain


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§ One Response to Movers & Shakers!

  • Hi!. Thanks for the info. I’ve been digging around for information, but I think I’m getting lost!. Yahoo lead me here – good for you I guess! Keep up the good work. I will be returning over here in a few days to see if there is any additional info.

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