Thursday, May 20, 2010

Alternative medicine for zoo animals

I did not realize that zoo animals have been receiving alternative therapies for their ills. The Singapore Zoo has treated more than 200 animals over the last decade with acupuncture and traditional herb-based Chinese medicine. These include giraffes, elephants, horses, sea lions, and pythons. A constipated orangutan was relieved by drinking an herb-infused honey mixture for a week. Acupuncture reduced the swelling in the fractured leg of a sedated cheetah and has been used to remedy the limp of an elephant (1st image). At the Paignton Zoo in Devon, U.K., mammals are enjoying aromatherapy. Lavender, peppermint, and other fragrances are applied to the toys and enclosures of the big cats to stimulate them, and almond oil and water are rubbed on the backs of a lioness, a tapir, and pigs and primates with dry skin. The Belfast Zoo keeps the skin of its aging elephants moisturized with cocoa butter (2nd image). Zoo animals including elephants benefit from massage, which can minimize hospital stays after surgery, improve brain and nerve function, and increase their longevity by enriching their lives and reducing their stress. When music therapy was tried at Boston's Franklin Park Zoo, the youngest member of a gorilla group listening to live harp music blew a kiss to the performer before dozing off. Animal chiropractic is used for the well-being of exotic pets and zoo animals, aligning the spine and boosting the ability of the body to heal itself. Zoopharmacognosy is an alternative medicine based on an animal's innate knowledge of the natural compounds it needs to eat, inhale, or rub to restore its health. And one of the veterinarians at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee uses homeopathy to treat the pachyderm residents, including easing Barbara's depression and stomach issues with flower essences and flax seed oil. While traditional medicine remains the first line of defense, holistic therapies are indicated in species as divergent as pandas, rhinoceros, alligators, and kangaroos.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful. If it's good for zoo animals, it's good for us. Too bad traditional medicine doesn't think so.


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