Maned Wolf Receives Pre-shipment Exam

Tye Chandler :
Posted September 6, 2019

Fossil Rim-born maned wolf “Fiona” is headed to a new home, but not before the animal health team gave her a thorough checkup via a pre-shipment exam.

“Fiona is going to another AZA facility to enter a breeding situation,” said Associate Veterinarian Dr. Julie Swenson. “She is at a good age right now for reproduction. We are excited for her opportunity to join the breeding population.”

Fellowship Veterinarian Dr. Lauren Schmidt (right) and Carnivore Specialist Tessa Townsend position “Fiona” the maned wolf for a chest radiograph. Everyone must exit the exam room except the person taking the radiograph, who stands behind a lead shield. Dr. Swenson and Dr. Schmidt then discuss the radiograph image.

Fiona definitely looked healthy at first glance.

“When she was brought into the clinic, we were talking with animal care (staff) about what good overall condition she was in,” Swenson said. “Maned wolves have a predisposition for being thin and underweight in captivity. It’s nice to see her at a very good weight, because we want her to be healthy going into a breeding situation.”

Fiona’s leg hair is trimmed to prep for the placement of her IV catheter.
Preceptee Daniela Monje performs a blood draw. Fossil Rim veterinarians encourage the preceptees to do a variety of duties to learn as much as possible.

Fiona did well during the exam in terms of responding to the anesthesia, both in regard to going under and waking up.

“This was pretty straightforward as a pre-shipment exam,” she said. “We do any testing that the receiving institution requests of us. They usually have desired tests that are specific to their population’s concerns. We did a complete physical exam with all the routine diagnostic testing.

Preceptee Daniela Monje is monitoring Fiona’s vital signs every 5-10 minutes. It is an important duty and helps keep an appropriate depth of anesthesia.
During an exam, an animal’s feet are always checked to see if the pads are cracking or have lacerations or other injuries. Veterinarians also want to check for dermatitis, overgrown or broken toenails, as well as any other evidence of trauma to the feet.

“We did preventive medicine including vaccines, flea control, radiographs, ultrasound, and prophylactic dentistry. In Fiona’s case, we also wanted to check on a small inguinal hernia that we’ve noted on previous exams. We watch it from year to year; at some point it might need a surgical fix, but it doesn’t seem to be needed currently.”

For captive maned wolves, health issues they might have are so often related to digestion and nutrition.

Guided by ultrasound imagery, Dr. Julie Swenson takes a urine sample by cystocentesis.
Veterinary Technician Allyssa Roberts performs prophylactic dentistry with toothpaste. It is similar to the cleaning a human would receive at the dentist. Roberts has the most staff experience with these cleanings.

“A lot of maned wolves seem to have issues with their GI tract, including inflammatory bowel disease, where they have trouble getting nutrients and calories from their food, even if their appetite is good,” Swenson said. “Also, many maned wolves are picky eaters and so they might not eat all the food you give them. Fiona has always maintained a very good body condition and good appetite. She’s not quite as picky about food variety as most other maned wolves.”

Dr. Holly Haefele uses ultrasound to evaluate the extent of a small inguinal hernia. It is important for carnivore staff members, such as Tessa Townsend (left), to be informed on the health details of the animals they care for.
Carnivore staff members Tessa Townsend (left) and Jess Rector bring an empty transport crate into the clinic so that they can put Fiona inside before her anesthesia is reversed to wake her up. She was brought into the clinic already asleep, transported in the back of the veterinary van on a blanket.
Dr. Lauren Schmidt gets ready to extubate, but waits for Fiona to swallow on her own.

When the public has seen photos of Fossil Rim maned wolves, it has often been Fiona in recent years.

Carnivore Specialist Tessa Townsend gives “Fiona” the maned wolf a bit of raw meat. Fiona, who is headed to a new facility to enter a breeding situation, was often seen in photos or by guided tour guests in recent years.

“It’s been nice having Fiona here because she’s a good representation of what the species should look like when they are in good health,” Swenson said.

-Tye Chandler, Marketing Associate 

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