Behind-the-scenes at Audubon Zoo: See how the vet team cares for your favorite animals

See how the team of experienced vets cares for the zoo's majestic creatures.

Audubon Zoo entertains visitors with more than 1,000 animals from around the world and keeping them all healthy is a big job. From Asian elephants to zebras, what it takes to care for these exotic animals is often a mystery to an ordinary guest.

Audubon Zoo gave a behind-the-scenes look at the animal hospital and how the team of experienced vets cares for the zoo’s majestic creatures.

Photo courtesy: Audubon Nature Institute

The staff of veterinarians, vet techs and animal care staff, or keepers, are all responsible for the healthcare for animals at the facility.

Built in 1996, the animal hospital is where Audubon’s team diagnoses and treats everything from small lizards to elephants. Sterile surgical facilities, imaging equipment and other basic facilities can accommodate the zoo’s “patients” for various procedures, just like any other medical facility.

The team works together provide everything from routine checkups to emergency procedures.

Photo courtesy: Audubon Nature Institute

Senior veterinarian Bob MacLean says his work to help animals have a good quality of life is “satisfying.”

MacLean says he’s often asked about his favorite animal to treat. He points out the huge, powerful big cats as being “quite amazing.” Big cat is a term typically used to refer to cat species like lions, tigers and leopards.

“It’s just amazing to be up close to them and actually feel how sharp their claws are,” MacLean said.

Photo courtesy: Audubon Nature Institute

Whenever medical problems arise at the zoo, a member of the animal care staff is usually the first person to notice, Joel Hamilton, Audubon Nature Institute vice president and curator, said.

Hamilton said the zookeeper regularly monitors changes in appetite, behavior and other patterns. They notify the vet department about changes, which helps determine if there’s a problem.

Preventative measures like animal checkups are another method the staff provides healthcare.

Photo courtesy: Audubon Nature Institute

Sometimes the animal care staff even has to create clever ways to get cooperation from zoo animals, similar to parents trying to take care of their kids.

“Like kids, not all of our animals want to take their medication,” Hamilton said.

When this happens, zookeepers sneak medicines into the picky animal’s favorite food to ensure they are getting proper medication prescribed by the vet.

It’s just one example of a tiny measure the passionate team at Audubon Nature Institute takes to impact the health and survival of a huge group of animals.

For more information about Audubon Nature Institute, visit the website.

Created in partnership with Audubon Nature Institute