As part of general wellness exams and a preventative medicine program, two Zoo Miami animals — an 11-year-old male Aardvark named “Erdferkel” and a 1-year-old male koala named “Hope” — received comprehensive CT scans that were performed by Dr. Xavier Meaux of Mobile Pet Imaging. CT scans provide enhanced 3D images that reveal details not as easily seen on normal X-Rays.
Hope, the first koala born at Zoo Miami in more than 20 years, received his CT scan as part of a recommendation from the Koala Species Survival Plan (SSP). Koalas sometimes develop nasal and lung issues that when detected early are easily treatable. CT scans provide the best way to determine if any of those issues are developing at a very early stage. Fortunately, Hope’s scans indicate that he is in excellent health with no signs of any problems at this time.
Koalas are arguably the most iconic of Australia’s wildlife. Found in the eucalyptus forests of Eastern Australia, these arboreal animals can consume close to two pounds of eucalyptus leaves a day. They are very selective in eating only the most nutritious and tastiest leaves of certain trees. When not eating, they can sleep for up to 18 hours a day!
Erdferkel has a history of dental issues and because an Aardvark’s mouth cannot open very widely (only wide enough for their thin and sticky tongue to come out and grab the ants and termites that they feed on!), there is no way to do a normal dental exam through an open mouth. The CT scan provides the best images to indicate if and where any dental problems may exist. Erdferkel’s scans did confirm that he does indeed have some issues that will need to be addressed in the near future and he will most likely undergo a dental procedure sometime in the fall.
Aardvarks are a nocturnal medium-sized mammal native to Africa that have powerful nails to dig into termite mounds and ant nests where they can eat as many as 50,000 ants a night. Often referred to as an “earth pig,” they have a pig-like snout and large elongated ears and live in large burrows that they excavates and are often used by other animals.
Overall, the results of the exams indicate that both animals are in good general health and they have since been successfully returned to their habitats where they have fully recovered.