John Ball Zoo

The Otter Physical is a Success!

I wrote a blog a few months ago about starting voluntary injection training with our male otter Slyde. Here is an update! 

We worked with Slyde to take “practice” injections that didn’t actually break the skin in the last blog.  When he was comfortable with those, we then moved into some actual injections using just a simple saline solution.  This took myself, and another keeper Tessa, a couple months of work to figure out how to best make Slyde comfortable and in a routine to receive these injections. 

When he seemed fully ready, we talked with our zoo vet Dr. Colburn, and arranged a date to set up for Slyde’s yearly physical.  Last week, we did his training session only with a sedative as the injection instead of saline this time.  He performed perfectly and within less than 15 minutes was fast asleep while still in the comforts of home.  Dr. Colburn was then able to do routine exams on his eyes, ears, and general appearance.  Even more exciting, thanks to new equipment the zoo was recently able to acquire, we were able to take radiographs and perform an ultrasound on Slyde just to make sure everything inside looked normal as well! 

Slyde passed his physical with a clean bill of health, and was then able to quickly wake back up still in his usual surroundings.  He even went on exhibit in the afternoon with our female and they both got to partake in an afternoon training session on exhibit for some of their favorite fish.  Overall, Slyde’s cooperation through training made the whole event easy and relaxed for both himself, as well as all the zoo staff involved.  Many other keepers throughout the zoo are also starting voluntary injection training with their animals in hopes of easing any undue stress on their animals.  We can’t wait to see what else we can accomplish!

Exciting addition: Since I originally wrote this blog update we have even been able to give our South American Tapir a hand injected vaccine!  This is a really big deal for him as he is quite a bit more of a shy and skittish animal.  Thanks to the other keepers who helped with his training!