A new therapeutic laser that Paignton Zoo have recently purchased is showing promising results for treating animals with a wide variety of medical conditions.
This new laser, a class 4 therapeutic laser, is enabling Paignton Zoo’s veterinary team to provide non-invasive and pain-free treatment to a wide array of their animals, for conditions such as arthritis, wounds, dental disease, trauma bacterial infections and muscle injuries.
Using specific wavelengths of light, the therapeutic lasers use a process called photobiomodulation. This stimulates the mitochondria of cells to produce energy and increases blood flow and oxygen to target cells, in turn accelerating tissue repair. This results in faster wound healing (whether surgical or traumatic), decreased inflammation, reduction in pain and a speedier recovery from bacterial infections.
Animals big and small across Paignton Zoo are undergoing this treatment, from Rothschild’s giraffe Otilie who is being treated for a wound on her head to a bongo with muscle damage. They also use their laser after surgical procedures to increase the speed of wound healing. There are promising results that the laser therapy is reducing recovery time in these animals, which is encouraging to the veterinary team, who are in the early stages of trialling this technology.
Class 4 lasers are used across multiple forms of medicine, from domestic veterinary and equine care to the treatment of muscular injuries in sportsmen. Some top class athletes have their own laser, which they use to speed up muscle repair after sporting events.
Head of Animal Health Services at Paignton Zoo, Ghislaine Sayers, is pleased that this technology is now available to treat zoo animals:
“We believe that this new laser will reduce the need for invasive treatments that often involve anesthetising our animals. Large animals like rhinos can be especially troublesome to treat due to their size, so this exciting progression means we can treat animals more easily and effectively and reduce the stress levels of those undergoing treatment.”
There are numerous benefits to using these lasers on their animals: combating antibiotic-resistance by directly targeting infected cells without the need for antibiotics; reducing the amount of painkillers used and thus avoiding some of their side effects; healing wounds more quickly; and reducing the number of anaesthetics an animal may require for changing dressings.
Paignton Zoo, who are part of the conservation charity Wild Planet Trust, aim to provide the best possible care for their animals.
Ghislaine continued: “This laser equipment required a significant initial investment, but we are delighted with these early results and will continue to monitor the progress of treatments.”
For more information about Wild Planet Trust, including the conservation and research that they undertake, visit www.wildplanettrust.org.uk
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