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June 2010 
Inside this issue ...
Holiday courses!
Culture comes to the vultures
Urban biodiversity?
Dr Emily Lane wins award
Director's comment
New arrival at Emerald Animal World
Stringent measures protect King penguins
NZG staff master penguin conservation skills
Maintaining an inland marine aquarium can be challenging!
First genetic assessment of pangolins in SA
Outbreak of deadly primate disease controlled
NZG hosts wildlife medicine courses for vets
ZooClub members investigate SA's biomes
Conservation Grapevine
World governments fail to halt biodiversity loss
Lions targeted for Chinese 'medicines'

 
Professor Tony Shakespeare from the Onderstepoort Production Animal Unit discusses the do's and don'ts of ungulate claw trimming using several wildlife cadaver specimens.
 
An adult male lion is prepared for a vasectomy.
 
A female seal with an eye problem is examined.
 
A cheetah is prepared for gastric endoscopy and biopsies. The procedure was filmed by a professional film company and a two-hour DVD set of the two courses will be made available soon.
NZG hosts wildlife medicine courses for veterinarians from five countries

Dr Adrian Tordiffe, Clinical Veterinarian, NZG

In February 2010, the National Zoo hosted two courses on practical wildlife medicine and surgery.

A total of 25 veterinarians and 10 veterinary students, representing five different countries, participated in the lectures and practical sessions that were presented by some of South Africa's most well-known wildlife veterinarians.

Practical demonstrations

On the first day, Dr Johan Steyl of the Centre for Veterinary Wildlife Studies at Onderstepoort discussed the subject of his PhD thesis, namely the vaccination of roan and sable antelope against Theileriosis. The procedure was demonstrated on an immobilized sable bull in the veterinary hospital bomas.

Professor Tony Shakespeare from the Onderstepoort Production Animal Unit then discussed the do's and don'ts of ungulate claw trimming using several wildlife cadaver specimens. The claw trimming procedure was demonstrated on an immobilized Sichuan Takin in the NZG.

After lunch an adult male lion was immobilized and transferred from its enclosure to the veterinary hospital. Here Dr Leon Venter from the Onderstepoort Pharmacology Department intubated the lion and discussed the various drugs used in lion immobilizations and anaesthesia. The lion was prepared and taken through into the operating theatre where Dr Adrian Tordiffe, clinical veterinarian at the National Zoo, performed a vasectomy on the animal. The whole surgical procedure was filmed from within the theatre and the delegates had a clear view of the surgery on a large television in the conference room next door.

The highlight of the second day was the immobilization and tooth trimming on an old hippopotamus bull using a new drug combination. Dr Markus Hofmeyr of the Kruger National Park led the pre-immobilization discussion and directed the procedure. Dr Gerhard Steenkamp from the Onderstepoort Dental Clinic started working on the hippo's overgrown tusk. Halfway through the procedure the limitations of this new drug combination were demonstrated when the animal suddenly stood up and everyone had to back away or run for safety. Fortunately the big fellow slumped back down and was given an extra dose of ketamine to facilitate the completion of the procedure.

Nyala and zebra immobilizations were next on the programme, presented by Dr Leon Venter and Dr Douw Grobler respectively. In the case of the Nyala, the delegates were able to evaluate the effects of different drug combinations. Dr Imke Luders from the Leibniz Institute of Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin demonstrated the use of transabdominal and rectal ultrasound on the immobilized nyala and zebra for pregnancy diagnosis.

Dr Corrina Pieterse from SeaWorld South Africa completed the practical sessions with a discussion on the immobilization, anaesthesia and clinical examination of Cape fur seals. A female seal with an eye problem was darted and examined. The animal had a large corneal ulcer and it was decided to call in the expertise of the ophthalmologists at the Onderstepoort Eye Clinic.

The second course started on day three and followed more or less the same pattern as the first. The seal was immobilized again and Dr Lo-Ann Odayar from the Onderstepoort Eye Clinic performed a conjunctival rotational pedicle graft on her.

Other variations on the second course included the immobilization of a pygmy hippo instead of the common hippo and at the end of day four the immobilisation of a cheetah for gastric endoscopy and biopsies. Dr Liesel van der Merwe from the Department of Companion Animal Clinical Studies at Onderstepoort performed the procedure and the NZG's Dr Adrian Tordiffe discussed the various renal diseases encountered in captive cheetahs.

The practical sessions stimulated a great deal of discussion and all the delegates had the benefit of the collective experience of lecturers and their fellow delegates. Both courses are in the process of being registered for CPD (Continuing Professional Development) accreditation with the South African Veterinary Council and South African delegates will be able to register a total of 18 structured CPD points for their participation.

Both courses were filmed by a professional film company and a two-hour DVD set will be made available soon. Based on the amazing success of the first two courses, the NZG hopes to present such courses on an annual basis.