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Overall Vet Impressions from Vienna Zoo Practice

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by redchupas, 2 Jan 2010.

  1. redchupas

    redchupas Member

    21 Jul 2009
    Pitesti, Romania
    Here you find the article with photos

    My first encounter with Vienna Schonbrunn Zoo and the its vet staff, took place during our weekly practice of the Conservation Medicine Module. Parts of our CM class had to come each Wednesday at 8 o'clock and join the vets on their daily activity. My first day was pretty exhausting, we had to trim the claws of 15 Somali sheep and take blood samples from them. After this we were being made the tour of honor of the zoo and around 11 we finished our job there. We also came when a hippo had to be anesthetized for castration and once we saw the training of the panda for clinical check-ups, including blood sampling . During all this rotation period my group went there for 3 or 4 times.
    Schonbrunn Zoo is quite a state of the art zoo, maybe the most pleasant from Europe. Numerous ex situ and in situ projects , a continuing improvement of the animal enclosures, many educational and awareness programs are being held here. Because of this and many other reasons I found it quite unsatisfactory for my interest in zoo animals to spend only this small period and, so, I decided to do more about it.

    Hoping that the vets would have remember me from that 3 times of practice, I sent an e-mail to their office, asking them about the possibility to do one month of practicum there. As for any respectable zoo institution, I had to insist with some other e-mails to receive an answer.
    I was lucky enough to receive a positive answer for the month of April, considering that no other month until autumn was free.

    So at the beginning of April, at the first hour I presented myself at the back entrance of the zoo where the vet car picked me.
    Now was time for a proper introduction. The chief vet of the zoo is Dipl. Dr. Thomas Voracek and his vet team include PhD Dr. Hanna Vielgrader and Dipl. Dr. Katharina Reitl. They all take care of the cases in the zoo and the small animals clinic which Thomas owns. Maybe is a little bit confusing but in fact is pretty simple. Around 15 years ago Dr. Voracek worked as a part time vet assistant in the zoo, then he became full time vet and after a while he decided to build a public small animal clinic attached to one of the zoo entrance. The motives were very smart. A clinic provides a constant high level medical practice and also income. During this time Dr. Vielgrader was working at the department of imagistics of Vetrinary University of Viena, doing her PhD and because of her outdoor type of character she was always providing professional assistance in the zoo. Thomas needed help with everything and so he invited Hanna to permanently work with him. For Hanna was a quite a challenge and maybe for this reason she accepted.
    Two years ago Dr. Reitl joined the team. During her student period she was employed as a nurse at the same clinic, and after graduation, for 3 years she found a vet job in well known clinic of Vienna. Kathy is a really hard working person, passionate of wildlife with a lot of small animal experience and knowledge, despite her young age. Thomas knew this and as soon as one new position was needed she asked her to join the team. She couldn't wait for this opportunity.
    I took the liberty to write this story because first time I've asked Thomas abut how he became a zoo vet, he smiled telling me that there are a lot of people who's always asking him the same question.

    Returning to the work, basically the vets program was like this: all the check ups and treatments in the zoo take place from 8 to 10 in the morning and from 10 to 12 in the clinic which is also opened another two hours in the evening .
    First I was a little bit disappointed to stay only two hours a day in the zoo but I change my mind when I saw how many exotic patients the clinic received. Knowing the experience of the vet team, people came with all sorts of reptiles, birds, small mammals and even pet monkeys.

    My first day I particularly remember it because, after doing the check out in the zoo, Hanna asked me to take care and clean the chemical immobilization kit. They have this big tool box field with darts, chemicals, needles, silicon stoppers and everything that could come in handy during a field anesthesia . I joyfully spent two hours whipping and checking the quality of every object inside that box. There I saw more or less all the anesthetics that are currently used for immobilizing any kind of animal. I recall putting the chemicals in the order of the receptors that they are working on, starting with the tranquilizers like phenothiazines , going to the opiates and then separating the antagonists. I was quite a cool time to spend.

    During my stay I had the opportunity to see being put into practice all the immobilisation techniques: chemical and nonchemical, from making darts, using the blow pipe and the CO2 rifle to the manual handling of different species: staring from exotics (reptiles, birds, etc) to bats or goat like species. I can say I am able now to organize a complete kit for field anaesthesia .

    Thanks to Hanna I've seen a real professional imagistic diagnosis in different species from Indian rhinos to ferrets. She also left me the responsibility to make the everyday treatment of one Galapagos turtle with hypoglobulinemia and ascites.

    Kathy gave me the opportunity to monitorise the anesthesia and assist the surgery of different species: from the marmoset with a dystocia to the sugar glider eye enucleation, and also help treat different internal medicine cases.

    For several times, Thomas took me into real field interventions: here I must mention when we had to save a pare of badgers from an excavated hole and one other time when we've treated an infected wound of an European bison.

    Because of the special nature and expertise of the vet team, they were always asked to provide assistance in cases where domestic animals couldn't have been brought to a clinic for treatment. I remember the time when we had to take blood samples from an aggressive dog or when we had to make a bandage to a sheep.

    "Be careful what you wish because it just may happen" somebody said! Actually I was so incredibly lucky when Kathy told me that the guy who should have succeed me at the end of my practice, canceled his appointment, and if I want I can prolong my stay. Even if I had to change all of my other plans I made everything possible to continue for one more month.

    In the Zoo Diary I presented some of the medical cases I've crossed upon during this practice.

    With this occasion I'll like to thank, again, Thomas, Hanna and Kathy for giving me the possibility to do my practice there, for having the patience to answer my tones of questions, English, and of course for being so nice to me.

    Ovidiu Rosu