24 April 2008
Veterinary staff at Taronga Western Plains Zoo are utilising infrared thermography technology as part of the special care program for our three Asian Elephants and two African elephants, all of which are in their twilight years.
Infrared Thermography is a non invasive diagnostic screening tool that does not require handling or restraint of an animal. This modern method provides real-time, instantaneous visual images with measurements of surface temperatures.
Infrared Thermography allows veterinary staff to see any abnormal heat patterns in an animal which may indicate something that needs further investigation or medical treatment.
"All five of the elephants at Taronga Western Plains Zoo are in their twilight years and are prone to degenerative diseases similar to those older humans suffer," said Senior Veterinarian Dr Benn Bryant.
"It is hoped that the thermal imaging technology will assist us with monitoring and documenting the health status of each of the Elephants and allow us to identify any changes in their health and act on them immediately," said Dr Bryant.
"Infrared Thermography detects variances in surface temperature which can indicate health issues such as lameness and inflammation. By using this technology it provides us with a different view of any health problems - ones that may not necessarily be visible using other imaging techniques," said Dr Bryant.
Infrared Thermography has many advantages over other imaging techniques such as ultrasonography, radiography and endoscopy as it is non invasive, offers instantaneous first screening method to help veterinarians in decision making, monitoring and determining whether other measures need to be taken and allows for easy monitoring of a condition over time.
"The Zoo will be undertaking thermal imaging for all five Elephants every three months in conjunction with Thermal Inspection Services in order to monitor and analyse their thermal readings over time and be able to detect any changes in their health and well being," said Dr Bryant.
"Infrared Thermography has been successfully used in the equine arena and is gradually migrating to other animal related fields because of its advantages for monitoring and documenting an animal's health over time," said Malcolm West, Director of Thermal Inspection Services.
"Many problems are only visible using this new technology, even though some animals seem healthy under visual inspection, thermography may reveal a different picture," said Malcolm.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo is located in Dubbo in Central Western NSW. The Zoo is open every day of the year from 9.00am to 4.00pm (exit gates close at 5.00pm). For more information contact 02 6881 1400 or visit www.taronga.org.au.
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