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Those Amazing Wild Life Veterinarians

Message Suzana Megles

Veterinarians - not just for house pets.
Veterinarians - not just for house pets.
(Image by L.Cheryl)
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I was so surprised to learn that Pope Francis has said that he hasn't watched TV for 25 years. This to me is amazing because I wonder how he keeps up with the news. And then I think he misses out on some very fine TV specials. Last night as I station-hopped, I came on such a special where it profiled the wonderful veterinarians who practice medicine for wild animals. In this case they were an elephant, a moon bear, a dolphin, an alligator, a tiger, and a tortoise.
I loved watching these vets overcome seemingly impossible circumstances and plying their magical skills to help all but one of these very sick animals.
CHAPA, a moon bear named so because they sport a white crescent shape on the front of their bodies, had been found as a cub -- motherless and alone. Frank found her, and for all intents and purposes, he proved to be a surrogate mother. He thoroughly enjoy the experience, and Chapa grew to adulthood under his loving care. But now there was a problem. He noticed that she seemed unwell, and so contacted a wildlife vet.
The vet discovered a fluid buildup in her head and that this was making life painful and miserable for her. So, the day came when the vet and his assistants prepped Chapa for surgery. They were able to drain the fluid and, to Frank's great relief, Chapa would now be good as new and no longer suffer from her malady. And yes, of course, we viewers were also happy at this heartwarming outcome for Chapa and Frank.
FUJI, a dolphin who had lost her "fluke"--the fan-like appendage at the end of her tail--was now having difficulty maneuvering in the water with the other dolphins. She also could not rise up high into the air, which demonstrated the fluke's importance.
As I didn't tape this, I am only relying on my memory and have already forgotten the name of the wonderful oriental doctor who was bound and determined to help Fuji. His first attempt with a fluke prosthesis failed, but his second did the job. Everyone held their breath when the second fluke prosthesis was attached to Fuji's tail. At first, Fugi must have wondered what that "thing" was at the end of her tail. Well, she figured it out, and soon it helped to propel her through the water when she joined the other dolphins in a swim. What a joy to see her flipping that artificial fluke.
The next test was a smashing success as well. Fugi was now able again to jump high as she had once done so many times before her accident. It was a beautiful sight to see for the doctor, his helpers, and all of us who were viewing this on film.
NUNIO, an elephant in Poland, had a broken-off tusk that had become infected. To address this problem would challenge the vet who came to help him. Cleaning out the surface infection was not enough and it ran deep. The vet cut away as much of the infected tusk as he could, but he knew that the remaining piece had to be extracted as well in order to stop the infection.
It required him to return to his clinic to hopefully fashion some new instruments that would help him to remove the embedded tusk. The saws and drills that he had tried to use proved inadequate. But sadly the new tools didn't do much either until he decided to extract the tusk with I guess a winch and a pulley. It really was like pulling a tooth except this "tooth" was over a foot long and was buried deep into Nunio's body. But it worked! Out came over a foot-long piece of infected tusk. Everyone breathed a sign of relief. Nunio now would be cured and his infection would be gone. No more pain for Nunio!
MARTHA, a crocodile, was observed by her "friend" who spent a lot of time watching crocodiles. He had been given a baby crocodile as a youth and ever since then- these reptiles intrigued him. He would often come down to a Florida river and watch them in fascination. One day he saw one of them whom he would call Martha seemingly listless and basically floating on the top of the river.
He knew something was wrong, and he also noticed that she had a large bulge in her mid section. A Wildlife vet was called. They got her out of the river with the customary struggle, even though it was evident that she was ill.
They managed to tape her mouth shut and bind her with rope. They then drove her to the hospital. Here she was anesthetized and, upon opening her up, the vet saw that she was impacted with a great amount of fecal material -- some of which he scooped out. Sadly the doctor determined that nothing could be done for Martha. I didn't understand exactly why this was, but she was euthanized, Her "friend" had hoped for a better resolution, but at least, thankfully, she would no longer suffer.
The Galapagos Tortoise. These reptiles have the capacity to live a very, very long time, and one of them became listless and was not eating. The vet had to do exploratory surgery, which, of course, was challenging because of the shell that covered most of her body.
After anesthetizing her, they tilted her body so that the doctor could cut into the visible skin to scope her organs. Naturally, it was a difficult and dangerous maneuver, but he did a great job and we too could see her liver. Whether that was the problem, I am not sure, but whatever it was, the doctor was able to diagnose it and address it. All involved would later on see a now-well tortoise happily munching on a red pepper and some greens. Another job well done by a vet with a special talent to help this tortoise live for possibly many more healthy and happy years.
I wish that Pope Francis would have seen this program. I believe he would have thoroughly enjoyed it as the rest of us did. Certainly St. Francis would have enjoyed it too, and who's to say that he wasn't watching it also from his heavenly home?

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I have been concerned about animal suffering ever since
I received my first puppy Peaches in 1975. She made me take a good look at the animal kingdom and I was shocked to see how badly we treat so many animals. At 77, I've been a vegan for the (more...)
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