March 7, 2019
How to Bring a Shark to the Vet’s Office
- as seen by -Joseph Gessert jmaher
One of the most challenging — and exciting — aspects of animal care in Canyon’s Edge, part of the new Ocean Wonders: Sharks! exhibit at WCS’s New York Aquarium, has been figuring out how to get large sharks and other animals off exhibit for routine veterinary examinations.
The aquarium’s animal and dive staff have worked together to develop safe procedures for guiding individual animals including sharks, rays, and sea turtles into a medical treatment pool. Divers enter the water in a team of four: two working divers with nets and two spotters. The spotters keep an eye on animal activity in the exhibit and help guide passing sharks away from the working divers. The two working divers approach the target animal (in this case, a nurse shark), and one of them gently slips a net over its snout. The other diver encloses the tail end of the animal, and as a group, the divers and spotters bring the shark slowly and safely into the side pool where a veterinarian can take measurements and blood samples, administer medication, and anything else that’s needed to keep our animals healthy.
EDITOR’ S NOTE: The story of the New York Aquarium’s shark moves to Ocean Wonders: Sharks! was featured on Sunday’s episode of Animal Planet’s THE ZOO now in its third season. The series takes viewers behind the scenes at the Bronx Zoo and the other WCS wildlife parks in New York City to tell powerful, compelling stories of animals and their care givers, and the zoos’ contribution to conserving wildlife around the globe.