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The Rhino With the Glue-on Shoes

The Rhino With the Glue-on Shoes

Author:Lucy Spelman and Ted Mashima, editors
Release Date:2008

By Anny Hoge | Posted 10/1/2008

Even with all of the knowledge and technology available today, zoo veterinarians are often faced with questions they cannot answer: How do you feed an anorexic eel or mend a giraffe's dislocated hip? The Rhino With Glue-on Shoes, edited by veterinarians Lucy Spelman and Ted Mashima, is a collection of true stories written by zoo vets who have faced these situations.

The collection opens with a section called "Close Connections," which examines the relationship between human and animal. Beth Chittick Nolan's "The Eel and the Bartender" tells the story of a green moray eel that becomes anorexic due to separation anxiety. Having grown up in a tank adjacent to a New England bar, the eel had become accustomed to being fed by the establishment's bartender, and after it was moved to the New England Aquarium in Boston, it wouldn't eat. After fruitless efforts to feed the eel, Nolan decides to track down the bartender: "I don't remember the words of endearment the man said that day. I remember that the man hand-fed the eel a piece of fish or shrimp, and that the eel did not refuse food from that day forward. But most of all, I remember the look of pure adoration on the man's face as this eel emerged from its hiding place for him, and only him."

In the "Technology Helps" section Spelman shows how vets creatively treat their patients. Animals may present as asymptomatic and, unlike humans, can't say where the pain resides. "The big challenge for any zoo vet is to distinguish the normal from the abnormal," Spelman writes. "In the process we tackle the same set of problems: when, where, and how to get our hands on the animal, and what--if anything--to do for it."

In "Puzzles and Mysteries," Spelman delves into some historically baffling medical conditions, from an octopus that is given optical surgery to the Botswana rhino translocation project. And the "Crossover" section explores zoo vets who turn to domestic veterinarians and even human medicine to treat their patients' problems. Even if you're not crazy about giraffes, rhinos, or eels, The Rhino With Glue-on Shoes is an engaging read--especially if you're unfamiliar with the workings of veterinarian medicine.

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