Keith R. Poster; Tammy Renaud
At the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network (TMMSN), methods and procedures have been adopted to improve efforts in the rehabilitation of stranded cetaceans. Although antibiotic therapy is important to cetacean rehabilitation, other aspects of the animal's health should also be considered. In human rehabilitation, treatment considers all aspects of the patient's health and includes comfort level, maintenance of physical and mental health, along with opportunities to interact. Each of these aspects of health can influence the other. Cetacean rehabilitation at the TMMSN follows a similar philosophy. By providing physical and mental stimulation, along with carefully controlled socialization, the TMMSN has adopted a holistic approach to treatment.
The TMMSN takes into account all aspects of animal care, from operational management to direct contact with the animal to careful monitoring of safety for both the animal and staff/volunteers. This poster will provide an overview of this holistic approach. Included is a discussion of how equipment can be adapted to facilitate improved physical health of the animal, the use of enrichment activities and husbandry training to maintain mental health, adaptation of procedures to reduce "stress load" on the animals, and an assessment of ergonomics for the safety and comfort of assisting volunteers.