Meet the Patient: Palu

Name: Palu

Sex: Male

Species: Malayan sun bear

Age: DOB 10/25/08 (8 yr 9 mo old)

Weight: 155.1lb

Reason for Visit: Routine Physical Examination

Each animal at the Virginia Zoo receives a routine physical examination at least every 2-3 years or more frequently if the animal is older or has an ongoing problem that Animal Care staff are monitoring. This physical examination is performed in a systematic manner so that we make sure we assess each of the body systems.

Palu’s physical started off with an exam of his eyes, ears and nose. Dr. Clabbers, the Zoo’s Veterinarian then performed a dental exam, which consisted of checking the teeth and gums for the presence of tartar and gum disease. Palu had some moderate tartar build-up, which vet tech Leah addressed with a dental scaling and polishing. Overall his teeth look really good.

As Palu was having his teeth cleaned, Dr. Clabbers and Jen, the Zoo’s other Vet Tech listened to Palu’s heart and lungs, then palpated (or touched) his abdomen, joints and long bones to feel for any abnormalities. The team then drew blood to run a complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry panel. The CBC tells us about his circulating red blood cells, white blood cells and the distribution of each. The chemistry panel tells us about his overall organ function, including liver and kidneys, and electrolytes.

Radiographs of his chest and abdomen were also obtained to make sure his soft tissue and bone structures appear within normal limits. Vet staff obtained a urine sample via cystocentesis (using a needle and syringe to draw urine directly from the bladder). The urine sample will tell us how well his kidneys are doing their job and gives us the opportunity to also look for any abnormal cells in the urine.

During his anesthetic procedure, an intravenous catheter was placed to administer intravenous fluids for hydration and blood pressure support. Palu also received a Rabies vaccine and an anti-nausea medication.

Overall, Dr. Clabbers and team concluded that Palu was perfectly healthy. Palu resumed his normal daily activites post-exam and can be seen sun-bathing and napping in his exhibit in Asia – Trail of the Tiger!