Operating on a lion, doing health checks on an orangutan, or monitoring a marmoset may not be standard veterinary practice, but at Mogo Wildlife Park’s animal hospital it’s all part of a day’s work.
The animal hospital has been running for more than a year now, and has proved a roaring success.
The clinic was built after the 2019-2020 Black Summer bushfires, and was initially used to rehabilitate injured animals from the blazes.
Staff from the facility treated burnt kangaroos, wombats, wallabies and other Australian wildlife.
Given the size and savagery of the bushfires, it was a monumental task treating injured wildlife in Eurobodalla Shire, with clinics from around the area doing their part to rehabilitate injured animals.
Dr Janelle Dunkley from Moruya Veterinary Hospital says they treated alpacas, horses, a joey, a kangaroo and possums.
“These animals are native to our area and were badly impacted by the fire,” she says.
However, now that these injured animals are rehabilitated, the animal hospital is being used for the population of animals at the wildlife park.
Mogo Wildlife Park director Chad Staples – better known as Zookeeper Chad – says the facility’s state-of-the-art technology and equipment has been invaluable.
“We use it weekly – it’s our animal health facility,” he says. “It’s capable of surgery on anything up to the size of our lions.”
The facility was purpose-built to handle the sort of animals a regular vet cannot operate on.
Prior to its construction, Chad says he was envious of other clinics around Australia, but now this facility is cutting-edge.
“It’s virtually impossible to know the implications for animal health without this state-of-the-art facility,” he says.
Since opening, the hospital has been used for surgery and procedures on a wide variety of animals, ranging from small monkeys to large lions.
The hospital allows staff to keep up to date with the health and wellbeing of all the animals at the wildlife park.
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Compared to other veterinary clinics in Eurobodalla Shire, Mogo Wildlife Park’s animal hospital differs in some significant ways.
“It’s extremely different to a normal vet,” says Chad. “We do full health checks on orangutans with a team of vets in the facility – its pretty mind-blowing and amazing.”
When questioned about what some of the more unusual procedures carried out at the clinic have been, Chad asks if operating on a 200kg lion counts as unusual. Most vets on the NSW South Coast would say yes.
“We’ve done lion surgery in there, we’ve done orangutan surgery, and we’ve even done surgery on little marmosets,” he says.
The operating theatre is a large space, with viewing windows for people to watch some of the procedures.
COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns have not stopped the hospital from running because the health of the animals at the zoo must be maintained, however vet teams in the theatre have been a little smaller than usual.
“The hospital has been an extreme success,” says Chad. “The large space, the new equipment – it’s simply priceless.”
Mogo Wildlife Park has now re-opened to visitors after the COVID-19 lockdowns.