FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo is home to more than 1,500 animals. For Dr. Kami Fox, that’s more than 1,500 patients.
“Most people don’t even know we exist,” Dr. Kami as she’s known at the zoo, said. “They don’t know that there’s a hospital here dedicated to the animals. They don’t know that there’s full time veterinarians here all the time and on call 24/7. There are three vet techs, I have two hospital keepers and I’ve got an environmental quality technician to monitor all the habitats to make sure they’re appropriate.”
Dr. Kami is the zoo’s Director of Animal Health and Conservation. She started at the zoo as an intern for her zoo medicine specialty and then never left.
Now, keeping all the animals at the zoo healthy, is a childhood dream come true.
“When I was small, tigers were my favorite. I thought I’m going to make sure they’re healthy when I grow up. For some reason, I thought they had eye issues, which that’s not true, but now I look in their eyes and I’m a tiger Ophthalmologist among other things. So I feel like I’ve achieved my goal,” Dr. Kami smiled.
The hospital at the zoo has a pharmacy and lab rooms as well as a surgery room and radiation room.
“We can monitor the health of all of our animals, largely right here at the zoo,” Dr. Kami said. “We are a nonprofit zoo, but we have state-of-the-art equipment to take care of the animals. I’ll continue to grow the hospital as funds allow, hopefully purchasing a CT in the future.”
If animals are sick, or are new to the zoo, they’ll go to quarantine areas. Wild on WANE got an exclusive look inside the Aquatic Quarantine area.
“Any new animal that comes to the zoo gets quarantined to make sure they’re healthy and no diseases are going to come into our collection. This space doubles as a hospital space as well, so any of our fish or sting rays or sharks could come here if they weren’t feeling well,” Dr. Kami said.
There are three large pools in the area. In one pool, there were three stingrays, two of which were born at the zoo last year.
“They are growing up to be big enough to go in with the adults. We actually have four female stingrays and all the rest of them that you see out there are actually males, so we don’t know who the dads are,” Dr. Kami said.
Another pool is home to a giant grouper who was separated from the zoo’s other grouper last year because they weren’t getting along in their tank.
“One of them actually stopped eating. She came to live with us so we could figure out if there were any medical concerns and give her supportive care. now we’re kind of making sure she’s stable before we either reintroduce her here or find her a new home. She’s about completed her hospital stay with us,” Dr. Kami said.
There are also several smaller tanks for fish that need to be hospitalized or for fish new to the zoo.
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