Miami-Dade County

How does a veterinarian examine a jaguar? It starts with a tranquilizer

Adonia, Miami Zoo’s 7-year-old jaguar, gets a full physical Tuesday from Miami Chief Veterinarian Dr. Gwen Myers and veterinary specialist Dr. Woody Hayes.
Adonia, Miami Zoo’s 7-year-old jaguar, gets a full physical Tuesday from Miami Chief Veterinarian Dr. Gwen Myers and veterinary specialist Dr. Woody Hayes. Photo provided to the Miami Herald

Taking Adonia for a checkup isn’t an easy task.

That’s because Adonia is a nearly 150-pound jaguar, which is “pound for pound one of the most powerful cats in the western hemisphere,” said Zoo Miami’s Ron Magill.

The process began Sunday night when 6-year-old Adonia was isolated and not given food or water.

“It involves quite a team,” Magill said. “But it’s something we have to do.”

First thing Monday morning, Adonia received a tranquilizer dart with a syringe attached to a poll — it’s less painful than shooting it out of a rifle, Magill said.

“The large cats have to be completely out for any kind of checkup,” he said “Animals don’t realize we are helping them.”

Fully sedated, Adonia, who was born Dec. 22, 2009, at the Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, Texas, was then taken to the zoo’s clinic in an air-conditioned van.

That is when the real work begins.

Zoo Miami Chief Veterinarian Dr. Gwen Myers led the team as Adonia got the works: an ultrasound by veterinary specialist Dr. Woody Hayes, X-rays, dental cleaning, and blood and urine collection.

So far everything looks good, Magill said.

“By doing these regular exams we are able to discover problems before they become critical,” Magill said.

Carli Teproff: 305-376-3587, @CTeproff

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