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Synopsis | Episode Guide | Australian Wildlife Hospital

Tsunami

We’re right at the operating table for a remarkable rescue procedure on a koala as our New Breed Vet fights to repair shattered bones with surgical implants in a technique where high-tech medicine combines with low-tech engineering to try and save a precious life. When the animal’s too big for the hospital, we take the entire operating theatre to the animal. Just one toenail threatens to bring down the massive bulk of our Asian Elephant. And the terrifying power of a tsunami smashes through Asia leaving a trail of destruction.



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Case Study koala  

Episode: “Tsunami”
Case Study: Koala car hit
Location: Australia Zoo
Veterinarian: Dr Jon Hanger

‘Frankie’ is a male koala, approximately six years old. He was brought to Australia Zoo after being hit by a car. Dr Jon Hanger found that Frankie was suffering from concussion, facial abrasions, shock and a fracture of the left femur. The initial treatment administered was general anaesthetic. An intravenous line was established, fluids were administered, and therapy for shock, trauma and pain were provided. Frankie was stabilised in preparation for surgery. He was anaesthetised and the surgery was performed through an incision above the fracture, and repaired using an intramedullary pin and wire. A pair of bolt cutters was then used to trim the pin down to size. The surgical site was flushed with saline solution then closed with sutures. Dr Jon continued to administer antibiotics and pain relief for the next five days. Frankie made a full recovery and after three months of rehabilitation was released back into the wild.

Patient Card - koala
Patient card koala

Procedure card koala

 
Case Study cheetah  

Episode: “Tsunami”
Case Study: Cheetah Broken Jaw
Location: De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Center, South Africa
Veterinarian: Dr Peter Caldwell

‘Jaws’ the cheetah came from Botswana. His horrific injuries came from being caught in a snare trap around the head. In his struggle to escape he caused serious trauma to his jaw. The injury was to a part of the jawbone called the mandibular ramus, which was completely fractured. The soft tissue around the bone and the gums were lacerated and damaged, causing infection. Senior veterinarian at De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Centre, Dr Peter Caldwell with Dr Dagwin Camby, an orthopaedic specialist, put Jaws on antibiotics and treated him for shock and pain. Because Jaws’ palette had been ripped from the roof of his mouth, maggots had infested the area. The mouth region was shaved, cleaned and disinfected to create a sterile site for surgery. A hole in the throat called a pharyngostomy was cut to accommodate the endotracheal tube, which fed oxygen and anaesthetic into the lungs. This was to maintain the cheetah under general anaesthetic while operating on the jaw without getting in the way of the surgeon’s hands and contaminating the surgical site. The materials used to repair the fracture were stainless steel surgical bone plates and screws inserted by Dr Dagwin Camby, making use of a surgical power drill. Jaws was put on antibiotics to prevent further infections. Pain management was crucial during and after the procedure because Jaws needed to start eating as soon as possible after the surgery. Jaws remained at De Wildt for recovery.

Patient Card - cheetah
Patient card cheetah

Procedure card cheetah
 
Vet Cards  

Dr Jon Hanger:

In the New Breed Vets episode ‘Tsunami’, Australia Zoo’s Senior Veterinarian Dr Jon Hanger performs amazing ‘in the field’ surgery on a camel with an infected lip, uses bolt-cutters to repair a koala’s broken leg and removes a massive lump from the abdomen of a water python.

Bio:

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
 

Gail Gipp:

In the New Breed Vets episode ‘Tsunami’, Australia Zoo’s Australian Wildlife Hospital Manager Gail Gipp treats one of the Zoo’s star elephants suffering from an infected toe.

Bio:

Gail is the Manager of the Australian Wildlife Hospital at Australia Zoo. Gail has over 27 years of experience with hand-raising and caring for sick, injured and orphaned wildlife. Gail is also president and co-founder of Wildcare Australia, a volunteer wildlife rescue group. Gail is a certified wildlife rehabilitator and is a specialist at hand-raising orphaned koala joeys and releasing them back into the wild. She also fills in as Dr Jon Hanger’s vet nurse.

Gail Gipp
 

Dr Christopher Stremme:

In the New Breed Vets episode ‘Tsunami’, Germany vet Dr Christopher Stremme, with assistance from Australia Zoo’s Dr Jon Hanger, treats elephants working in the frontline of tsunami-ravaged regions of Indonesia.

Bio:

Dr Stremme studied veterinary medicine in Germany. After graduating he started a journey around the world, volunteering at numerous zoological and wildlife rehabilitation centres. His passion for Asia and for Asian wildlife species saw him travel extensively through the region. Dr Stremme’s special interest is the Asiatic Elephant and the development of specialised treatment techniques.

Dr Christopher Stremme
 

Dr Peter Caldwell:

In the New Breed Vets episode ‘Tsunami’, African wildlife vet Dr Peter Caldwell removes a debilitating abscess from the leg of the world’s fastest land mammal – a cheetah at the De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Centre in South Africa.

Bio:

As principal vet for De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Centre in South Africa, Dr Caldwell can have up to 100 cheetahs in his care at one time. His specialty is internal medicine, surgery and immobilization of cheetahs and African Wild Dogs, with an interest in small animal medicine. Dr Caldwell has a Bachelor of Science and a Doctorate of Veterinary Science.

Dr Peter Caldwell
 

Dr Dagwin Camby:

In the New Breed Vets episode ‘Tsunami’, orthopaediatrician specialist Dr Dagwin Camby, assisted by Dr Peter Caldwell, screws the broken jaws of a wounded cheetah back together after the endangered cat was caught in a farmer’s snare.

Bio:

Dr Camby is an orthopaedic specialist. He runs a private practise in Pretoria, South Africa that caters for not only cats and dogs, but specifically, cheetahs. His spinal and orthopaedic surgery on cheetahs is ground-breaking, and his surgery has been specially set up to cater for the world’s fastest land mammal.

 
New Breed Vets