Monday, August 22, 2016

Hand-rearing and Hand-restraint

Name: Lauren Silla
Class Year: 2017
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
Internship:Wildlife Conservation Intern
Location: White Oak in Yulee, Florida

            Throughout my internship at White Oak I have had the opportunity to be very involved in everything the keepers do everyday, including two very important tasks: hand rearing neonates and hand restraining hoofstock for routine procedures. The decision to hand rear an animal is never made lightly and is often the last resort in order to save an individual’s life. Hand rearing becomes necessary if there are health issues for the mother or calf, or maternal neglect (poor parental care sometimes due to a dam being a first time mother). During my internship there were a couple calves being hand reared. My role in this process has been to prepare bottles, feed the animals, and document notes on the progress of the animal including the amount of formula eaten and general behavior. Although this has certainly been an extremely adorable part of my job, it also comes with great responsibility. Interns are entrusted to care for these calves, most of which are threatened species, especially for the late night feeds, and because we want these animals to grow up with the appropriate behaviors we limit our interactions with them so they do not become overly friendly with people.

            Another really unique aspect of my White Oak internship is my involvement with medical procedures, particularly when hand restraining is necessary. Since all the hoofstock are housed in large pastures, the keepers are mostly hands off in the daily routine. However, when animals require medical care it is necessary to get hands on them. Deworming, vaccinating, or receiving annual check-ups all require getting the animals in hand. There are several options for getting animals in hand, but often the safest and least stressful option for smaller hoofstock is hand restraint. The process is fairly simple once one gets the hang of it. We herd the animal into a smaller space, one keeper gets ahold of the animals head and neck then lowers the animal into a laying position, and a second person holds onto the animal’s shoulder and back. The veterinarians are then able to examine the animal and administer any medication needed. The keepers and the vets work together quickly and efficiently to get this process done.
             Before my internship at White Oak, I had practically no experience hand-rearing or hand-restraining hoofstock. I was able to learn the skills and methods necessary for these procedures quickly because of the valuable instruction from the keepers and vet staff.  
One of the gerenuk males I assisted in hand-rearing
Restraining a critically endangered dama gazelle calf for vaccinations
Manually restraining a bongo antelope calf for a routine blood draw 

No comments:

Post a Comment