Vets seek answers for Arabian oryx
In early August, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center veterinarians Dr. Julie Swenson and Dr. Holly Haefele, plus veterinary technician Brenda Cordova, held a diagnostic procedure in an attempt to help an Arabian oryx that was not in ideal health.
“We’ve been concerned with how thin she is, while the rest of the herd is maintaining weight pretty well,” Swenson said. “We pulled her from the herd and then put her in a pen at the vet clinic. That way, she would have easy access to food and we could increase the calorie content so she could gain weight better, but so far that hasn’t worked. We don’t generally have many health problems here with Arabians as a species, so she is a bit unusual.”
Swenson discussed the exam for the oryx.
“We wanted to repeat some bloodwork after we’d found some mild abnormalities the last time with her,” Swenson said. “In addition, we wanted to do a more thorough dental exam to make sure there were no teeth issues. We wanted to get radiographs on her to check for a foreign body or maybe an abscess in her abdomen, plus look for evidence of heart disease in her chest.
“We did an ultrasound for the same basic reasons as the radiograph; but it also allows you to look at some different structures better, such as movement of the heart, kidney measurements and specifics in the liver.”
In addition to Fossil Rim staff, vet preceptee Paula Rocha, vet tech intern Allyssa Roberts and former vet preceptee Jennifer Shultz were assisting on the exam. Currently a student at Colorado State, Shultz had stopped by to visit before starting her next semester.
“Jennifer just happened to be visiting us for the day,” Swenson said. “We like to have former preceptees come back to visit on occasion.”
Swenson felt like it was a valuable morning for all three ladies.
“We tried to get examples of rumen fluid from this animal to test it for various issues,” she said. “One way to do so is by passing an oral gastric tube, and that’s something you may need to do in an anesthetized ruminant from time to time. Ruminants can often bloat under anesthesia, which can make it difficult for them to breathe. Learning how to pass the tube is really important to relieve that pressure, and we don’t do it routinely, so this was a good chance to see how it’s done.”
As of now, there are no definitive conclusions on the health of this Arabian oryx, but the vets will continue to search for answers.
“She is a problematic case, because so far we can’t determine why she’s in such poor body condition,” Swenson said. “We are still waiting on mineral panel results to come back, and there are a few other tests we can run. We’ll continue to keep her at the clinic on high-calorie foods that are easy to digest, plus give her probiotics and other supportive care treatments until we are able to determine the underlying problem in her case.”
-Tye Chandler, Marketing Associate