Koi Visit the Vet

With more than 500 animals representing 140 species at the Sacramento Zoo, the veterinarians have their hands full. They use their expertise to examine eyes, cure upset stomachs and make sure the large variety of animals at the Zoo receive the best preventative care and stay in tip-top shape. It is easy to imagine a typical exam on most of the animals, but what about the koi fish? How exactly do you give them an exam?

On March 14th all of the Zoo’s nine koi received an exam. The exam began with transporting them to the Murray E. Fowler Veterinary Hospital at the Zoo in coolers filled with water from their pond.

The fish were examined one at a time. First the fish was placed in water that had a solution to anesthetize the fish. This would reduce the stress to the fish and the amount of wiggling. After the koi was asleep in the water it would momentarily be taken out of the water to be weighed and then promptly placed back in the water where it was measured for body length and girth.

The exam also included photographs for identification, a skin scrape to look for parasites under the microscope, a gill biopsy to look for parasites and a blood sample. The exam ended with the fish being removed from the water one more time for a quick x-ray. At the end of the exam the fish was then placed back in the cooler they arrived in and a veterinarian monitored the koi as the anesthesia wore off. 
All the koi successfully completed their exams and are now back home in the koi pond at the Zoo. Be sure to stop by and see them on your next visit; and remember, don’t throw things, especially metal in the pond as it can be harmful to the koi fish.

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