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New Breed Vets
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Steve visits Washington State University to join the New Breed Vets in the den of hibernating Grizzly Bears to unlock the secrets of their metabolism. The WSU has some of the most high-tech medical equipment which is put to the test on an American Bald Eagle and in San Francisco, Steve assists vets from the UK and the USA implanting an Elephant Seal with a microchip for first-time research on marine mammals. At Australia Zoo, Steve’s resident vet performs critical microsurgery on a Green Tree Frog to save its life, and in Singapore Steve helps a local vet administer Chinese medicine – acupuncture on a lame elephant.

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Case Study elephant acupuncture  

Episode: “Grizzly”
Case Study: Elephant Acupuncture
Location: Singapore Zoological Gardens
Veterinarian: Dr Oh Soon Hock

‘Tun’, an Asiatic elephant at Singapore Zoo, was suffering from lameness to one of her front legs and was slowly deteriorating. Dr Oh Soon Hock, a Zoo veterinarian who also practices traditional Chinese medicine, established a therapy based on this ancient practice. In Chinese medicine, illness is attributed to imbalance or interruption of the body’s vital energy. Ancient practices such as acupuncture are claimed to restore balance. Traditional acupuncture as it is now practiced involves the insertion of stainless steel needles into various body areas. A low-frequency current is applied to the needles to produce greater stimulation. Tun was brought into a covered, open area and encouraged to lie down by her handlers. She was fed bananas to distract her and keep her occupied. Dr Oh administered the therapy with specially designed needles to pierce her tough skin. This was one of many sessions, which are showing extremely positive signs of comfort for Tun.

Patient Card - elephant
Patient card elephant

Procedure card elephant

Case Study grizzly bear  

Procedure Card

Episode: “Grizzly”
Case Study: Grizzly Bear Hibernation Research
Location: Washington State University
Veterinarian: Dr Lynne Nelson

Of the eight species of bears that exist worldwide, six are threatened or endangered. In the US, Grizzly Bears outside of Alaska have been eliminated from 99% of their range and their numbers reduced from 100,000 to fewer than 1,000. As a result of these devastating facts, the bear program at Washington State University was created. In 1986 the WSU Bear Research, Education and Conservation Center was established to provide information and understanding necessary to conserve bears around the world. Because of the need to weigh bears regularly, draw blood samples and provide special diets, not all research can be done in the wild. Research with captive bears permits a more in-depth understanding of bear biology. In 2003, the bear program had the opportunity to hand-raise two female Grizzly Bear cubs. A new approach was adopted by the WSU bear facility with these permanent residents. Luna and Mica were purposefully habituated to people, and interact with humans daily. Luna and Mica are now participating in research attempting to understand bear hibernation biology. Under the strict guidance of Dr Lynne Nelson, Luna and Mica have heart ultrasound exams performed monthly during the summer months and two times during hibernation, giving the research team valuable Grizzly Bear physiological information.

Patient Card - grizzly
Patient card grizzly

Procedure card grizzly

Vet Cards  

Dr Erik Stauber:

In the New Breed Vets episode ‘Grizzly’, Dr Erik Stauber’s patient, an injured Bald Eagle called Snowy undergoes an MRI scan at the Washington State University in the USA to determine if he will ever fly again.


Dr. Erik Stauber, a professor of Small Animal Medicine, has dedicated his service and support for over two decades to Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. He is both internationally and nationally recognized as a specialist in the field of zoological veterinary medicine, but Dr Stauber’s true passion rests in the area of raptors. Erik has shepherded the much-admired raptor rehabilitation program at WSU for over 20 years.

Dr Erik Stauber
Dr Lynne Nelson:  

In the New Breed Vets episode ‘Grizzly’, Dr Lynne Nelson enters the den of hibernating Grizzly bears at the Washington State University as part of research into their metabolic and cardiac functions during hibernation.


Dr Nelson is an Associate Professor at the Washington State University. Her interests are mechanisms of cardiac failure, particularly in systemic disease and altered metabolic states. She has been involved in a number of clinical projects regarding cardiac disease in systemic and pulmonary hypertension.

Dr Lynne Nelson
Dr Martin Haulena:  

In the New Breed Vets episode ‘Grizzly’, Dr Marty Haulena from the Marine Mammal Center in San Francisco works with renowned veterinarian Dr Pat Butler from the University of Birmingham in the UK to implant electrocardiograms into Elephant Seals.


Dr Haulena is the Staff Veterinarian at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, CA. His special interests are in the medical management of marine mammals, with emphasis in novel diagnostic methods such as MRIs, endoscopy and sonography, and in developing safe anaesthetic protocols as well as improving surgical techniques. Veterinary students from around the world study marine mammal medicine each year under the direction of Dr. Haulena.  
Dr Martin Haulena
Dr Pat Butler:  

In the New Breed Vets episode ‘Grizzly’, renowned veterinarian Dr Pat Butler from the University of Birmingham in the UK travels to the US as part of a joint project with the Marine Mammal Center to implant electrocardiograms into Elephant Seals.


Dr Pat Butler is the Principal Investigator from the University of Birmingham ( England). He is a Professor of the School of Bioscience at the University of Birmingham. His field is Physiology. His research over the last 35 years has been largely concerned with the control of the respiratory and cardiovascular systems in sea birds and marine mammals, and this has centred mainly on the physiological and behavioral responses to diving. He is a pioneer of aquatic telemetry equipment development.

Dr Jon Hanger:  

In the New Breed Vets episode ‘Grizzly’, Australia Zoo’s Senior Veterinarian Dr Jon Hanger performs microsurgery on a frog, repairs a very lucky water dragon with horrible injuries and takes blood from a very nervous elephant.


Dr Hanger, who has loved animals since he can remember, was born with a passion for saving wildlife. He has been working professionally with Australian wildlife for the past 15 years and is regarded as one of Australia’s foremost koala experts. In 2003 he commenced working at the Australian Wildlife Hospital at Australia Zoo with Steve Irwin. As Senior Veterinarian, Dr Hanger has treated an extremely wide and diverse number of wildlife species.

Dr Jon Hanger
Dr Gary Wilson:  

In the New Breed Vets episode ‘Grizzly’, dental specialist Dr Gary Wilson gives Australia Zoo’s Bengal and Sumatran Tigers teeth check-ups.


Dr Wilson began his career as a schoolteacher, but his passion for wildlife and nature fuelled his ambition to become a vet. Dr Wilson went on to specialise in veterinary dentistry and is currently the President of the Australian Veterinary Dental Society. He is the Principal of Animal Dental and Oral Care and his main areas of interest are equine and exotic animal dentistry. He has worked on the teeth of everything, from tigers to polar bears.

Dr Gary Wilson
New Breed Vets