Who said you cannot teach an old seal news tricks? An arthritic Australian fur seal has been taught to use an x-ray machine, responding to keepers’ requests to move into position and lie still.
Melbourne Zoo keepers put the 19-year-old seal, Tarwin, through its paces yesterday, showcasing some of the strategies staff use to keep arthritic animals comfortable during colder months.
Arthritis affects a high proportion of ageing animals and Tarwin is not alone with the zoo’s meerkats, great apes, otters, snow leopards and elephants all suffering the debilitating condition.
Keepers and vets are always on the lookout for telltale signs, such as restricted movement and general discomfort, suggesting an animal might have arthritis.
Most of the zoo’s granny and grandpa wildlife have to be anaesthetised for x-rays in order to confirm their diagnosis.
Under the direction of Dr Sarah Frith, Tarwin lies perfectly still while scans are captured using a portable x-ray machine.
Tarwin took a look at the scans afterward and gave them her seal of approval.
Instead of shipping wildlife off to the animal equivalent of a nursing home, Melbourne Zoo uses a combination of anti-inflammatory medication, pain management and even massage to maintain living standards. AAP