המרכז הרפואי לבעלי חיים ע"ש פיליס ואוטו פריי
The Phyllis and Otto Frey Animal Medical Center located at the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem opened in 2000. The animal hospital includes a large surgery room with diagnostic equipment, recovery and treatment rooms, a laboratory and a quarantine unit. The veterinary hospital serves all of the zoo's animals with the exception of “the big 4”- elephants, giraffes, rhinos, and hippos. These large animals are treated in their own quarters within their exhibits. Diagnostic and preventative medical programs are an integral part of veterinary zoo medicine.
The preventative program includes:
1. Vaccinations against diseases such as rabies, foot and mouth disease, tetanus, feline respiratory diseases and avian influenza are given according to a regular schedule.
2. Scheduled treatments such as medications against intestinal worms for all zoo animals, monthly medications against colic for the ponies and urinary bladder stones for the sheep in the children's' zoo, anti-malaria medication for penguins.
3. Regular scheduled examinations take place every year for different animals in the zoo. These examinations consist of a complete physical exam, blood tests, x-rays along with teeth cleaning, hoof trimming or contraceptive treatments.
4. Quarantine - all new animals arriving at the Zoo must be kept in the quarantine unit for varying periods. Here the animal undergoes various tests to ensure that it does not introduce infectious disease into the Zoo. Zoo residents that are to be shipped to other locations also spend time in the quarantine unit. While awaiting transfer they undergo medical tests to ensure that they do not take disease to another facility. Separate areas of this unit are also used to house animals that are undergoing medical treatment and need daily care before they can be returned to their exhibit.
5. Roo's House is a quarantine unit designated for treatment and recovery of injured wildlife and named after our baby leopard Roo who died in August 2007. Wild animals can carry diseases that might be passed to zoo animals and are best kept isolated in a quiet environment that is less stressful for them.
6. Emergency care - the veterinary team works closely with the zoo keepers in all the different departments of the zoo. The zoo keepers know their animals best and are able to quickly spot any changes in behavior or appetite, or signs of physical injury within an exhibit. In many cases there is a need to capture the animal and tranquilize it in order to provide an accurate diagnosis and proper care. Large animals are tranquilized by using a gun with darts. After a thorough examination, the veterinarian decides whether to transfer the animal to the hospital or to continue treatment in the field.
7. Positive reinforcement behavior training is used in order to ease required medical procedures and treatments for the animals as well as for the keepers and veterinarians. It decreases the level of stress that the animals are under while receiving treatments. For example our elephants are trained using the “free contact” method and therefore daily care, nail trims, regular treatments and the drawing of blood samples can be done without the need for anaesthetics. Another example is our chimpanzees which are trained to stand in various positions in order to allow the use of a stethoscope to listen to the heart and lungs, to have their temperature taken, or receive medication.
8. Nutrition is important because a direct link has been found between proper diet and animal health. All of the animals’ nutritional needs are analyzed by our veterinary nutritionist and every animal is fed according to a specialized diet menu. In many cases food supplements are also added and diets are periodically reviewed and adjusted if necessary.
9. Veterinary research is an important goal of our veterinary team who are continuing to realize the vision of Dr. Gabi Eshkar who was the chief veterinarian at the Zoo for many years until he was tragically killed in a car accident in 2004.
The Zoo is a member of the European Association of Zoo and Wildlife Veterinarians and involved with many zoos in Europe and worldwide as a partner in conservation efforts.