MIAMI (CBSMiami) — How do you give a 144-pound jaguar a physical exam? Very carefully! Just ask the zoo keepers at Zoo Miami who gave their 9-year-old male jaguar named “Adonia”, a medical and dental exam Tuesday morning.
Adonia was immobilized during the exam which included blood and urine collection, x-rays, an ultrasound and an endoscopy of the digestive tract.
Zoo Miami Communications Director Ron Magill says dental health plays a key role in the overall health of an animal and being able to diagnose any issues before they become serious is the purpose of the dental exam which is a part of the overall preventative medicine program.
Because wild animals will instinctively disguise any health problems they may have to avoid being challenged or predated on, preventative exams are often the only way to discover illness or disease before it reaches an advanced stage.
One of the nation’s top veterinary dentists, Dr. Jamie A. Berning, performed the dental exam. She is donating a week of her time to perform a wide variety of dental procedures on several animals at Zoo Miami. She did a thorough tooth cleaning and took several x-rays of Adonia’s teeth. Other than some minor ulcerations in the mouth, Adonia’s teeth are in excellent condition, says Magill.
Zoo Miami’s veterinary team also performed other procedures including an ultrasound and examination of the digestive tract. Adonia had been observed vomiting recently and the hope is that these examinations may provide a clue as to why.
The team is awaiting the results from the blood and urine exams which will take several days.
Jaguars are the largest cat in the Americas and the third largest in the world after tigers and lions. They are found in tropical forests ranging from Mexico down into South America and have recently been seen crossing the Mexican border into the Southwestern U.S.
Unlike most cats, jaguars are often found in and around water where they will hunt a variety of prey ranging from fish and caiman to deer and domestic livestock. They have one of the most powerful jaws of all cats with the ability to bite through large skulls and turtle shells.
They are considered Near Threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.