Edinburgh zoo behind-the-scenes video broadcast

Zoo vets operating on a bear. Picture: contributed
Zoo vets operating on a bear. Picture: contributed
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EVER wondered how to amputate a tarantula leg, inspect a rhino’s feet or carry out an ultrasound on a giant African land snail?

All these facts and many more are being revealed in a series of behind-the-scenes work being broadcast by Edinburgh Zoo as part of the national Love Your Zoo Week.

Experts from the zoo were filmed in various scenarios, including everything from routine check-ups on animals to performing keyhole surgery on a bear, in a bid to give the public a better insight into the inner workings of a zoo.

Romain Pizzi, who works as a veterinary surgeon at the Capital attraction, said it was a great way of educating the public.

He said: “People often wonder what’s going on behind closed doors. It’s nice for them to be able to see what our life and job at the zoo entails and the bits they don’t normally get to see.”

Animals are routinely monitored for any health issues and one video shows rhino feet, which can be prone to cracking, being checked to ensure there are no problems.

And if a snail seems off its food, an ultrasound will often reveal the reason why.

“You can get an idea of their internal organs like their digestive tract or see if they’re going to lay eggs,” explains Romain.

“They will sit on the ultrasound without stressing. You can gently move them about to get a full picture. People don’t think of giving an ultrasound to a snail, but it can reveal a lot.”

Footage also includes the vaccination of a big cat, and small insect work – including discussing fang infections and tarantula leg amputation.

The eight-legged arachnids can injure their legs during mating, and rather than risk infection it is better to amputate the limb – which will always grow back.

Chris West, chief executive of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, said: “Many people may not realise the kind of work our veterinary team carry out on a weekly basis. This is the perfect opportunity to tell these stories.”