Fife Zoo's Ebony becomes the first coati in the world to receive acupuncture treatment
A team of veterinary experts from Edinburgh University have teamed up with staff at Fife Zoo to help an ageing arthritic animal. Ebony, a 12-year-old coati, has lived at the zoo since 2019, but after losing her mate last year and suffering from reduced mobility in recent years, zookeepers have been exploring all options to increase her quality of life.
After consulting with veterinary experts from Edinburgh University, the team discovered that utilising an Eastern medicine proved to be the most effective treatment for the South-American mammal – and Ebony’s carers say she is the first of her species in the world to receive acupuncture treatment.
Mike Knight, director at Fife Zoo said: “We believe that our coati is the first in the world to receive acupuncture as a form of treatment for arthritis. Last year, when she lost her mate, her condition gradually deteriorated, but she seems to be becoming more active and agile since receiving acupuncture as a form of treatment from our veterinary team.”
Zoo staff said they observed a noticeable improvement in Ebony after she received a few rounds of acupuncture and was coping well with the alterative medicine that involves inserting up to 21 needles into Ebony’s back during a single procedure.
The alternative medicine that dates back to 100BC is not accepted by the entire scientific community, however the World Health Organisation believes the treatment can be effective for over 100 conditions in people, including lower back pain, headaches and morning sickness. But a 2006 report published by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine concluded ‘there is no compelling evidence to recommend or reject acupuncture’ for animals due to lack of data.
The acupuncture treatment involves inserting fine medical needles into sensory nerves under Ebony’s skin and in to her muscles. This results in the body producing natural substances, such as pain-relieving endorphins to mitigate and reduce pain.