Providing medical care to the animals at the Zoo is of upmost importance. Many animals require their own participation to receive vaccines, or treat a medical issue. It is less stressful to train an animal to participate in their own health care, before an issue arises. This is why we decided to train our resident rhino, Jiwe, for foot x-rays.
The biggest challenge was creating something that he couldn’t break! At 4,000lbs, and an eagerness to play with anything, our main goal was for him not to mess with the board and potentially break the x-ray plate. Luckily, one of our handy keepers built a very sturdy board that the plate holder fits perfectly into! It is the same x-ray plate holder that we use for the elephants, so we knew it should hold his weight. Jiwe was rewarded for ignoring the board, and stepping on the plate. And our first attempt at a real x-ray was successful!
This information allows us to compare any future foot issues if they should arise. Not to mention, it’s very rewarding to Jiwe as he receives good treats and brushing time from his keepers and vet staff!
– Zoologist Kat Kleinschmidt