Practical Applications of Zoo Hospital Design for Hoofed Stock and Other Animals
James E. Oosterhuis, DVM
After 8 yr of planning and 2 yr of construction, the San Diego Wild Animal Park’s Paul Harter Veterinary Medical Center accepted its first patients on September 26, 2001. The Hospital encompasses 34,000 square feet of conditioned space and 29,000 square feet of outside pens, sun rooms and flights. The $20 million project was funded entirely from donations from over 2,000 individuals, corporations and foundations with the largest donation coming from Mr. Paul Harter.
The design of the facility is the culmination of years of research and workshops which began in 1991 with a tour of ten of the best zoo hospitals in the United States and ended in a set of plans that met the needs of the animals and the type of practice that we have here at the Wild Animal Park. It was accomplished by a team effort of veterinarians, technicians, keepers, administrative staff, architects and outside consultants.
The hospital has been built to handle all of the animals kept at the Wild Animal Park with the exception of elephants, rhinoceros and giraffe. The special construction needs for those species proved to be too costly to consider for the new hospital. We do have the capabilities to handle everything else however, and will describe some of those features that are considered practical and innovative. The end result is a facility that has helped us raise our standards of practice and hopefully will raise the standards for zoo veterinary hospitals everywhere.
The general features to make note of include: all bird and hoofed stock inside spaces are temperature controlled and have a rubber floor for the animals to live on; all bird, primate and carnivore indoor areas have skylights to maintain natural daylight cycles; patients can be monitored remotely by pan/tilt/zoom/color CCTV cameras mounted in each animal area: all primate and carnivore inside spaces have heated floors, collapsible benches, remote operated doors and removable squeeze cages with built-in scales; recycled plastic planks are used instead of wood throughout the hospital’s outside areas; isolation areas with separate HEPA filtered ventilation systems are located in all three patient areas, including a shower-out facility in the primate area.
Special hoofed stock features include: a hydraulic squeeze; two padded walk through push boards for moving animals down the push alley, which includes a walk-on scale; unique placement of intravenous pumps by building them into the doors of the animal’s pens; a padded induction/recovery room with a moveable wall and access from three areas; an overhead hoist that traverses from the unloading apron through the large animal treatment room and the recovery room to the surgery room; a dock leveler and a platform scale built into the unloading apron; a foot bath for hoofed stock with capabilities for hot water/disinfectant soakings up to 6 inches deep; a large animal treatment room with its own x-ray head and floating islands to allow for flexibility in the size of space needed to treat the various animals; concrete lined outside pens with special drains that allow drainage of the substrate and facilitate complete removal of the soil when needed.
Other special or innovative items include: a radiology track that allows for the traversing of the x-ray head from the radiology room through a wall into the small animal treatment room; a physical therapy room for animals; catwalks above the outside pens to aide in shifting animals from one pen to another.
These features, combined with a very versatile and functional flow pattern, adequate storage space, administrative space and support facilities, allow this hospital to increase our efficiency and give us the ability to better care for our patients.