Koalapalooza: Vets Share, Too!

I hope you were able to visit the San Diego Zoo January 16 through 19. If not, boy did you miss a good time! It was the Zoo’s first Discovery Days celebrating koalas with Koalapalooza (see blog, Koalapalooza: A Joey Is Named). Discovery Days events are a great new way for people to learn more about a targeted species.

During these times, keepers and researchers will share information about the species being featured and show some of the things we are doing to help save them and their habitats. And keepers from all around the Zoo share information about some of the animals they work with during an extended All About Enrichment weekend. Discovery Days are also a great time for the public to learn what they can do to help wildlife.

Horticulture staff explained the differences between eucalyptus species, the mainstay of a koala's diet.During these four days, it really isn’t just keepers and researchers sharing information, it’s a variety of departments; there are booths from horticulture, the Wild Animal Park, education, development, and of course my favorite, collection health.

During Koalapalooza, the Collection Health Department, which consists of veterinary services, nutrition, and wildlife disease laboratories, participated by having a booth where guests could speak with veterinarians, vet technicians, hospital keepers, nutritionists, and hospital administration. We had posters and information describing what we do, medical procedures playing on the computer and TV, digital images of some of the medical cases from the Zoo, plush animal bandaging, a vet truck demo, and remote drug delivery presentations.

A Zoo vet shows some of the equipment found on the specially equipped vet truck to Zoo visitors during Koalapalooza.

Collection health is an area of the Zoo that is seldom seen by the public. Most people don’t know that there are seven full-time veterinarians and six full-time vet technicians who are in charge of looking after the vast animal collection here at the Zoo. Plus, there are five hospital keepers, lab personnel, and all the hospital support staff that it takes to make things run smoothly.

I know we all had a great time at the booth and we are looking forward to Bear Bonanza, March 19 to 22. So if you didn’t make it to Koalapalooza, be sure to mark your calendar. Bear Bonanza will be here before you know it and we already have exciting plans for that. Be sure to look for us!

Yvette Kemp is a senior hospital keeper at the San Diego Zoo.

Read Yvette’s previous blog, Deiriai the Swamp Monkey