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Same Old Story from the Valley Zoo (March 10, 2011)

posted 17 Mar 2011, 09:57 by Rob Laidlaw   [ updated 17 Mar 2011, 10:41 ]
While claiming once again that Lucy is getting better, but that she, conveniently, is still too sick to move, the Valley Zoo continues to refuse offers of a free visit by a team of world-class elephant veterinarians.The Valley Zoo issued a media release (see below) on March 10, 2011 concerning the third visit of Dr. James Oosterhuis, the veterinarian who has been unable to diagnose Lucy's respiratory condition. The zoo shows they are no further ahead in combatting the alleged condition than they were years ago. They now also claim that a new piece of medical equipment must be invented to "capture a biopsy of what is believed to be a mass inside of Lucy's nasal passages," something animal protection groups call just another stall tactic.
Lucy Shows Health Improvements
March 10, 2011

Third-party expert re-examines Edmonton Valley Zoo elephant
While acknowledging that Lucy, the Edmonton Valley Zoo’s Asian elephant, is showing some health improvements, elephant specialist Dr. James Oosterhuis continues to be concerned about her breathing difficulties, as identified by the Edmonton Valley Zoo Veterinarian, Dr. Milton Ness.

“Dr. Ness’s concerns regarding her respiratory problems are well founded,” said Dr. Oosterhuis in a letter sent to the zoo following an examination of Lucy’s trunk with a three-metre endoscope January 31, 2011.

Elephants usually breathe through their trunks. Lucy breathes through her mouth. Under stress, or during other times of increased need for oxygen, Lucy’s ability to breathe is stretched to capacity.  “Her respiratory problem continues to preclude any thought of moving her, and in fact, it would be life threatening for her to be placed under that kind of stress,” said Dr. Oosterhuis.

Dr. Oosterhuis is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and a lead researcher with the Colyer Institute, a non-profit centre for the study of oral disease and nutrition with exotic elephants.

Dr. Oosterhuis believes a mass may be causing her breathing difficulties. He did note that the reduction of “white exudates” is a good sign and allowed the medical team to see Lucy’s nasal passages better. This was the third examination of this nature conducted on Lucy since September 2009.

Edmonton Valley Zoo staff were “…to be commended for developing a husbandry program that has reduced her weight and increased her health and overall fitness,” said Dr. Oosterhuis.

After reviewing the recommendations, Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Ness says he will consult with biomedical engineers to see if they can create a device to capture a biopsy of what is believed to be a mass inside of Lucy’s nasal passages.

“There is no available medical equipment to use for this situation, so we are hoping to build a ‘made-for-Lucy’ solution in hopes of being successful in our next attempt to biopsy this possible mass,” said Dr. Ness.

The results of the exam and the zoo’s next steps will be shared with the Edmonton Humane Society. The Society recently reviewed Lucy’s care and confirmed the zoo is meeting the requirements of the Animal Protection Act and consulting with the necessary experts to ensure Lucy receives adequate care. The latest exam by Dr. Oosterhuis is one way the zoo is taking action in response to the Society’s recommendations.

In his report to the Valley Zoo, Dr. Oosterhuis noted that Lucy’s “good nature and ability of the handlers to work closely with her continues to be the key to her ability to handle her respiratory condition.”