Miami-Dade County

Watch as even the flamingos get their annual wellness exams at Zoo Miami

Watch as Zoo Miami flamingos get their annual wellness exams

Watch as Zoo Miami flamingos get their annual wellness exams.
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Watch as Zoo Miami flamingos get their annual wellness exams.

When your significant other — or your primary care doctor — nags you that it’s time for your annual physical, buck up and be brave.

You don’t want to be outdone by a flock of birds, do you?

Turns out Zoo Miami’s flamingos also receive annual wellness exams and, aside from a little squawking, they seem to take to the treatment with a minimum of fuss.

In a video released by the Miami-Dade attraction, Wednesday’s wellness exams seemed to go mostly smoothly. Zoo Miami’s flock of 25 Caribbean flamingos — 14 male, 11 female — were carefully corralled into a small area and then, one by one, met the zoo’s associate veterinarians, Dr. Jimmy Johnson and Dr. Gaby Flacke.

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Flamingos are wary of staff approaching with the net. Ron Magill Zoo Miami

A blood sample was taken from each flamingo, who was also weighed and given a close overall exam to look for any potential issues, the zoo’s spokesman, Ron Magill, said in a release. The flamingos were also vaccinated for the West Nile virus.

For us humans, our weight and blood test results tell us what we need to know — even if we don’t necessarily want to hear about the former. For flamingos, particular attention is paid to the feet because the feet “can be susceptible to certain issues,” Magill said.

After the flamingos were checked, they were returned to their exhibit at the zoo and can be seen, as dainty as you please, trotting off into the water, grateful another year’s probing is history.

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Zoo Miami associate veterinarian Dr. Jimmy Johnson prepares to collect a blood sample while zookeeper Susanne Gigler secures the flamingo. Ron Magill Zoo Miami

That is, for all but one bird, a 31-year-old male who did not pass his physical and was exhibiting some respiratory issues, Magill said. Instead of going back to his exhibit, he was sent to the zoo’s Animal Hospital, where he was “resting comfortably” as the vets continued their evaluations.

“These exams are part of an important preventative medicine program designed to identify any potential health issues with the animals that live at the zoo,” Magill said in the release. “Because they are wild animals, they oftentimes will disguise any symptoms of disease or illness until the progression is too far advanced. By being able to identify any potential issues during early stages through preventative exams, lives can, and have been saved.”

Miami Herald Real Time/Breaking News reporter Howard Cohen, a 2017 Media Excellence Awards winner, has covered pop music, theater, health and fitness, obituaries, municipal government and general assignment. He started his career in the Features department at the Miami Herald in 1991.
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