Fire Brigade help to determine anteater pregnancy
Wednesday 2 August 2000
PHOTOCALL...... PHOTOCALL....... PHOTOCALL
Date: Thursday, 3 August 2000
Venue: London Zoo (entry via East Service Gate)
Contact: Susan Wilks, RPPR: 020 7881 3253;
Debbie Curtis/Joe Laing/Peter Beatty, London Zoo PR Office, tel: 020 7449 6363/6236/6361, mobile: 0589 043843
LONDON FIRE BRIGADE ANSWERS UNUSUAL CALL FOR HELP FROM LONDON ZOO
London Zoo enlists the help of London Fire Brigade to determine giant anteater pregnancy
The London Fire Brigade is used to unusual requests, but a 'phone call from London Zoo was more unusual than most! In an effort to try to determine if Sauna the giant anteater is pregnant, London Zoo has enlisted the help of the Fire Brigade's specialist thermal-image device, which is usually used for locating casualties at incident scenes when visibility is poor.
London Zoo's Web of Life exhibition has been home to giant anteaters Benito and Sauna for a year, and the difficulty of predicting whether the female is pregnant has prompted this seemingly strange request. Giant anteaters are rare animals, and as the only two giant anteaters in the UK, Benito and Sauna are vital to the co-ordinated breeding programme for this vulnerable species.
The fire crew from Paddington Fire Station will assist Zoo vets and keepers in reading the heat picture profiles displayed by the thermal-image device. They hope to be able to detect elevated readings in the uterine area - one of the signs that the animal may be pregnant.
Divisional Officer Mick Newman said: "We are delighted to help London Zoo with this unique request. We hope this will show how useful and versatile this equipment is."
"Giant anteaters are a rare species and the prospect of Sauna being pregnant is quite an important breakthrough," commented London Zoo's Senior Curator, Simon Tonge. "It's not always easy to detect pregnancies in animals, and the thermal-image device is a new diagnostic tool for such investigations. It's not a fool-proof test, and has never been tried on giant anteaters before. Giant anteaters have a lower body temperature than most mammals and this, coupled with their size, makes diagnosis difficult. However, it will hopefully give us some indication of her condition."
Notes to Editors:
You can see Benito and Sauna in the BBC1 series Zoo on August 30. Breeding, feeding, sleeping, creeping, moving, staying, fighting, playing - Zoo is an intimate portrait of animals and keepers behind the scenes at London Zoo and Whipsnade Wild Animal Park.
Zoo is on BBC1 from 7.30pm every Wednesday evening.
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