If we told you one of the most dangerous animals we care for is a bird, we know you wouldn’t believe us! But what if we told you it can kill with one swift kick and has blade like claws, that would make you think twice, right?!
What are we talking about? The prehistoric and uber- powerful, Southern Cassowary.
Having a great knowledge and respect for these birds, it was with some trepidation and a LOT of planning that we did a full vet check on our beautiful female cassowary. Wavy, (named because of her wavy horn-like head casque) had been showcasing some strange swallowing behaviours. Cassowaries have an AMAZING ability to swallow fruits whole, helping to disperse the seeds throughout the rainforest, but Wavy had started to display a reluctance to do so and drop her food on the ground.
Medications didn’t do the trick, so to ensure there was nothing sinister going and to rule out any skeletal issues, it was in Wavy’s best interest to take her from her rainforest exhibit and to our hospital for a thorough veterinary investigation.
The procedure involved a highly skilled team working quickly and efficiently to anesthetise and transport Wavy safely to the hospital and minimise the amount of time she was on the doctor’s table. X-rays were done, bloods were taken, her beak was gently filed and throat thoroughly examined. Her feathers were ruffled and her giant dinosaur feet inspected with much respect.
Thankfully the vet check did not uncover anything sinister, but revealed she’s in pretty tip top shape. As for her odd swallowing behaviour, we’re managing that by diet and she’s going well.
Sadly the Southern Cassowary has been badly affected by habitat destruction and cyclones with as few as 2000 mature individuals left in their natural rainforest habitat in northern Queensland. Apart from taking great care of Wavy at Perth Zoo, we also help safeguard Southern Cassowaries in the wild by supporting the Save the Cassowary campaign.