Wild Wednesday: Learning about the Great Plains Zoo Animal Hospital

Published: Dec. 14, 2022 at 9:33 AM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Welcome back for this edition of Wild Wednesday. We are at the Great Plains Zoo at their Animal Hospital. I’m joined here by Janelle Brandt, who is a Registered Veterinary Technician.

This is so neat to actually be in here where everything happens, everything goes down right here, maybe just walk us through kind of what to expect when you’re inside here.

“This is our hospital treatment room. So animals will come in here for a routine exam or a wellness check if they’re happening to feel under the weather. At times they’ll be put under anesthesia sometimes they will not,” said Janelle.

“We have an x-ray machine that helps us check if there are any issues going on internally along with an ultrasound. We also have some advanced procedures just like an endoscope that you we can see inside if we needed to get any samples. We also have an ICU intensive care unit if they needed oxygen support or heat supplements. So we do various wellness checks along with vaccines and bloodwork making sure that their dental health is appropriate,” said Janelle.

Animals obviously come in all different shapes and sizes. What do you do with some of the really, really big animals?

“With some of the really big animals, we like to go to them, instead of them coming to us. A lot of them are voluntarily trained to participate in their routine health care whether that is footwork, blood draws x rays, a lot of their keeper staff do a wonderful job training them to help assist us so you can go there or if they come here, they’re often sedated I would have for the larger animals often sedated it helps ease their stress in ours so no ones put in a dangerous situation and that the procedure can go smooth,” said Janelle.

How many people typically would this room would need for let’s say an animal’s need to be in here?

“It has the veterinarian and me and then we also have their husbandry staff so their primary zookeepers would come in and assist whether that’s helping move a large animal in and getting them hooked up to anesthesia and a monitor during their procedure. It definitely takes a village with some of the large animals. absolutely,” said Janelle.

You mentioned it can kind of ebb and flow on how busy you use this room.

“Yep, we are here all year round. I know a lot of people think that we’re closed in the winter months. We do use this room for routine exams, and we schedule those procedures but animals just like ourselves sometimes get sick unexpectedly. So then we’ll also see those animals as needed in our schedule,” said Janelle.

Is there anything you just maybe like to note that you find particularly interesting or something that happened recently that you’d like to share?

“I think our voluntary procedures are great. we’re able to do blood draws voluntarily on some of our big cats, and our rhinos and our drafts are doing great with voluntary footwork. So the dedication that the staff puts into these animals to make sure that they have a choice and that they’re not stressed in their health care is amazing,” said Janelle.