X-ray vision

ZSL London Zoo has shared a selection of amazing x-ray images, taken during routine health checks of its 18,000 animals. 

An x-ray of a big headed turtle

The images, taken by the Zoo’s expert veterinary team at the on-site clinic reveal the inner workings of a variety of different species, including frogs, snakes, geckos and turtles.

ZSL London Zoo veterinary nurse Heather Macintosh says: “We can tell so much about an animal’s health from looking at an x-ray - from the strength of their bones to how healthy their heart is.

“They’re vital to our work, and even though we get to see unique x-rays fairly often we still think that they’re absolutely fascinating.

“Most people can recognise a human x-ray, but they probably haven’t seen the individual segments of a large hairy armadillo’s exoskeleton, or the long tail bones of a big-headed turtle.

“My favourite x-rays are definitely the snakes: humans have 33 vertebrae while snakes have between 200 and 400, which is how they’re so incredibly agile - it’s amazing to see it on screen.”

An x-ray of a corn snake

The important health checks - which also involve weighing and measuring every resident - are made possible by daily training with the animals, carried out by the Zoo’s keepers and vet team. 

“Our keepers make training part of their daily routine, which means our animals are totally un-fazed during simple procedures, such as presenting their tails for blood draws; it’s simple and stress-free for them – and our vet team.”

“It’s great to be able to share the work that goes on behind the scenes at the Zoo to keep our residents in tip-top condition – and our visitors are always amazed to find out more about their favourite animals.”

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