X-raying giant tortoises could prove a weighty problem – but not for one group of vets who overcame the conundrum by turning the tables on the troublesome Testudines.
Paignton Zoo staff were struggling to x-ray female Aldabra giant tortoises, which weigh about 14 stone and require four people to lift them – with the males weighing even more.
In the first instance, the team would slide the digital x-ray plates under the tortoises, but they would often stamp on or excrete over them, meaning the plates, which cost £900 each, were getting scratched and damaged.
However, plucky zoo technician Don Nielsen came to the rescue by creating a sturdy wooden table the tortoises can be lifted onto. Vets then slide the x-ray plate into a slot underneath while another team member stands above the animal with the mobile x-ray machine.
VN Celine Campana said: “The new table means the tortoises are lifted off the ground for only a moment or two; they can’t wander off as they are unable to reach the ground with their toes, and the x-ray is taken in a quarter of the time it used to take, especially good as previously we had to have another person in the room to restrain the tortoise.”