Zoo Miami’s flock of 40 Caribbean flamingos (18 males and 22 females) were rounded up recently on their habitat so that they could each receive their annual wellness exams.
The zoo’s Animal Health Team set up a mobile clinic alongside a specially constructed corral area adjacent to the habitat and one by one, each flamingo was brought in to be checked by Zoo Miami associate veterinarians Dr. Rodney Schnellbacher and Dr. Marisa Bezjian with assistance from the Animal Science and Animal Health teams.
Examinations included getting individual weights, collecting blood samples, and checking the overall body condition with special attention to the feet which can be susceptible to certain issues. In addition, each flamingo was vaccinated against West Nile virus. Some of the younger individuals that were receiving their first annual exam also were implanted with transponders for identification.
Other than some minor eye issues commonly associated with advanced age and some foot issues that will be carefully monitored, all of the flamingos appeared to be in good condition and were successfully returned to the habitat immediately following the procedure.
These exams are part of an important preventative medicine program designed to identify any potential health issues within the zoo’s population. Because they are wild animals, they oftentimes will disguise any symptoms of disease or illness until the progression is advanced. By being able to identify any potential issues during early stages through preventative exams, lives can, and have been saved.