When Sauna the giant anteater suffered recurring infections at the base of her nose and antibiotics failed to work, the vets and keepers at ZSL London Zoo, where she lives, were concerned.

Anteater op
On the mend: Sauna has now fully recovered from the operation. Photo credit: ZSL London Zoo.

The vet team needed to look inside her nose to find the cause of the problem, but did not have the equipment required.

So they took her to the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) to access the specialist teams and equipment there.

At the RVC’s Queen Mother Hospital for Animals in Hertfordshire, an extra-long endoscopy tube equipped with a camera, normally used for the treatment of cats and dogs, was used to examine her nose and throat.

On discovering an abnormal dark coloured area, the veterinary team thought it could be a tumour. However, further examination showed it was a piece of bark that had got lodged in Sauna’s throat.

After a 90-minute endoscopy procedure, the piece was successfully removed.

Sauna has now recovered and is back at London Zoo.

RVC senior lecturer and co-head of internal medicine Stijn Niessen led the clinical team and said they were delighted to have been able to assist.

“Although we had to brush up on our anteater anatomy, as vets we are committed to helping all animals and we were delighted our expertise and facilities could be used in helping a rather different sort of patient to the ones we are used to,” Dr Niessen said.

Head of veterinary services at ZSL Nic Masters said the vet department was responsible for the health care of an enormous diversity of patients, so it was crucial institutions such as the RVC, with specialist expertise and equipment, were on hand to assist in procedures of this nature.

“ZSL and the RVC have collaborated over clinical cases on many occasions over the years with excellent results, and this is a really good example of how beneficial that relationship is to the animals in our care,” he said.

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