Perth Zoo’s dedicated animal carers know our animals like the back of their hands. So, when they noticed Uzuri was sporting some unusual hives in her fur, zoo keepers and veterinary teams hatched a plan to determine the possible cause.
Under general anaesthetic, Uzuri was given an intradermal allergy test. Pet owners may recognise the skin prick and patch test as the same one given to their itchy cats and dogs!
The allergy testing involves shaving a patch of fur, carefully marking out the area and pricking a tiny amount of purified allergen extract into the skin.
The vet teams then watch to see whether the area starts to react and swell and this helps determine which environmental allergens the animal is reacting to.
Zoo veterinarian, Rebecca Vaughan-Higgins, said: “Changes in the skin, like hives or redness, could mean the animal is having a reaction to something it’s eating or coming into contact with.
“Uzuri appeared to be having flare-ups in certain seasons and weather conditions, so we suspected there may be something in the environment that might be causing the reaction.
“The veterinary specialists from the Animal Dermatology Clinic even took some of the elephant grass from her exhibit to test whether this was causing a skin reaction.”
Thankfully, the test showed that Uzuri was not having a reaction to the grass, but rather was experiencing allergies to dust and other mites and some plants!
“It’s great that we know what’s contributing to her skin issues, and now we can work on a medication and management plan to best manage her signs and make her more comfortable,” Rebecca said.
“Many pet owners will have similar ongoing plans for their dogs and cats at home – to manage similar seasonal allergies.
“Uzuri’s keepers have a wonderful rapport with her, and through her existing training programs, she will be able to have oral or injectable medication administered fairly easily.”
While under anaesthetic, the veterinary team also got up-close to examine her body condition, dental health, joint mobility and collected other samples such as blood and urine for testing.
Following her recovery, Uzuri was reunited with her sister Makeba in the African Savannah.
Perth Zoo is committed to ensuring the health and wellbeing of each and every animal in our care. Uzuri’s story is a testament to the efforts of our hardworking animal carers.