We've focused a lot on the active side of the animals, but if they weren't feeling well they certainly wouldn't be as active. So in order to make sure they are in the best shape possible, the seals have regular check-ups with their doctors just like we do. Let's take a look at what happens during Roxie's monthly check-up (which we call "rounds") with her trainer, Erin W., and her veterinarian, Dr. Julie.
First, we take a look at Roxie's entire body. The easiest way to do this is while Roxie is lying down.
Both Erin and Dr. Julie are checking the overall appearance of Roxie's skin, fur and the shape of her body.
Next we'll move on to more specific areas, like the eyes. Roxie is a senior fur seal and has cataracts. Erin and Dr. Julie look for any changes in the appearence of Roxie's eyes.
We also want to make sure that their teeth and gums are in good shape, so we monitor any plaque build-up, gingivitis or gum irritation.
Now I know what you're thinking...those are some dirty teeth! While you might think all that squid (and ink) are to blame, the dark color that you see on Roxie's teeth and mouth is the result of a normal and healthy bacteria.
Of course, with all of their activity, we need to make sure their flippers are in great shape. Erin is checking Roxie's range of motion while she also looks for any nicks or cuts on her skin.
Last, but not least, we might take a blood sample to make sure that everything is healthy on the inside. People usually have blood drawn from their arm. For the seals, we draw blood from a vein in the hind flipper.
We spread their hind flipper out (imagine spreading your fingers), then look for the veins that run in between their digits.
Roxie did a great job and passed her monthly rounds with flying colors.
Marine Mammal Trainers
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We train the Aquarium's Atlantic harbor seals and Northern fur seals for enrichment and to build a trusting relationship that allows for regular medical checkups. Read our posts to learn about what's new with the animals and how we train behaviors.
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