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Happy Hollow Blog

Animal Care: It takes a team

Thursday, 9/16

How many different kinds of?human doctors?can you think of??Dentists, oncologists, optometrists, gastroenterologists, dermatologists and?the list goes on. When it comes to health care for animals we often only think of general veterinarians, but there are specialists for animals,?too.?At Happy Hollow Park & Zoo we have a strong team of animal health professionals?that care for our animals daily, including?resident Vet Tech Rachel Atkins and regular visiting veterinarians Drs.?Tina?Peak,?Richard?McCormick and?Kris?Valerio, but?sometimes the medical needs of our animals call for specialized attention. Recently, several of our zoo animals required advanced eye care. This led Happy Hollow’s animal care team to reach out to Animal Eye Specialists in Campbell?for?consultation?with their team of?ophthalmologists.

“The?team at Animal Eye?Specialists?doesn’t often get the opportunity to work with exotic animals,?and we do not often get to work with specialists,” says Zoo Curator Heather?Vrzal, “It was exciting to get to collaborate with them, especially?for?the?benefit?of?our animals.”

If you follow Happy Hollow’s social media, you may have?already?seen the story of our fossa, Roni,?and her eye surgery. Roni developed glaucoma in her left eye, a condition where the nerve connecting the eye to the brain is damaged. This is usually due to high pressure in the eye, and can?be painful and?cause loss of vision. Because of the continued pressure in Roni’s eye,?it was?determined that the best course of action for her comfort and wellbeing was to surgically remove it.?Transporting Roni to the Animal Eye Specialists office would have been difficult and stressful for her, so?ophthalmologists Dr. Tina Burling and Dr. Savanna?Vig, along with Vet Tech Julie?Wallin, came to Doc’s Critter Care?at Happy Hollow?to perform the surgery.?It?went off without a hitch,?and Roni?was able to?recover?in the comfort of her own night?house.?Roni bounced back quickly, with zookeepers?reporting?that?she?appeared more energetic?and comfortable after her surgery.

Two of Happy Hollow’s avian residents?have?also received eye care from the Animal Eye Specialists team.?During an annual wellness exam,?the animal care team discovered?a?rapidly growing mass in the right?eye?of our?cattle egret, who lives in the aviary?in the Zoo on the Hollow. Concerns?that?the mass?could?be cancerous led to the decision to remove the eye.?An egret’s smaller size makes them much easier?to?transport?than a fossa, so this time Happy Hollow’s animal care team?was able to safely?transport their patient?to the Animal Eye Specialists?office?for the?procedure.?The?egret’s?surgery was equally successful and the mass was found to be?benign. Zookeepers reported that the egret adapted quickly and easily to using just one eye.

The final patient in this story?is Happy Hollow’s great horned owl,?Tukkuuli, who is an ambassador animal in?the?Zoo?Education Department.?Tukkuuli?had a small corneal lesion on her right eye?that was having trouble healing, even with the help of medicated eye drops.?When?it was determined that the drops were not?promoting?adequate?healing,?Dr. Burling at?Animal Eye Specialists recommended?a?treatment process?that further disrupts and irritates the lesion in order to signal the eye to heal itself.?Tukkuuli?continued to?receive daily medicated eye drops?to support?the healing process?after the procedure,?and?we are pleased to report that the?lesion appears?to?be gone!?Our animal care team continues?to?closely?monitor?Tukuuli’s?eye?to ensure that the lesion does not return.?

This partnership?with?Animal Eye Specialists?has?allowed?Happy Hollow’s animals to get the treatment they need to thrive, and we are incredibly?grateful for the?invaluable?time and knowledge?donated?by Animal Eye?Specialists’ team.

A final?member of this collaboration?that needs to be acknowledged is Happy Hollow?Foundation. After?Roni?the fossa was diagnosed with glaucoma?by the team at Animal Eye Specialists, Happy Hollow’s vet tech expressed how useful it would be?for our regular animal care team to be able to check eye pressure?when conducting annual exams. The foundation jumped on this challenge immediately, and within a very short?time?had?sponsored the purchase of a?tonometer, a medical device that allows us to do just that. It was this tonometer that allowed us to catch the?problem with the egret’s eye and treat it quickly. Thank you, Happy Hollow Foundation, for always having our animal’s best interests in mind!