Children’s Zoo Animals Made Easy
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2005

Peregrine L. Wolff, DVM

Peregrine L. Wolff, DVM, Moorpark, CA, USA


Many zoological institutions have a children’s or petting zoo. These exhibits contain primarily domestic animals. Zoo veterinarians focus their efforts on staying current with the medical care of exotic species. This presentation provides an overview of the preventive care (vaccinations, foot care, parasite control, and dental), anesthesia drugs and dosages, common clinical conditions, and zoonotic diseases of llamas, alpacas, sheep, goats, and pot-belly pigs.

New World Camelids, Llamas, and Alpacas

Preventive Care

Toenail Trimming

Trim flush with the plantar surface of the “slipper.”

Annual Vaccinations

Clostridium and tetanus. West Nile virus infection has occurred in camelids and the vaccination recommendations are 1 ml every 3 weeks for three doses, then an annual booster.6

Annual Shearing

Should be done to prevent heat stress, especially in climates with excessive heat and humidity. Shear in spring when nighttime temperatures will remain above 10°C (50°F). Try to use an experienced shearer. Iatrogenic burns over the dorsum have been reported.5

Parasite Control

Deworming strategies should be based on fecal results. Nematodirus or Trichuris species have caused problems in camelids and are noted to be variably shed in the feces. Even 1–2 eggs identified on a fecal exam should prompt treatment of the animal.13 Parelaphostrongylus tenuis affects camelids in susceptible areas. Recent research has shown that the intermediate host, snails, emerge from hibernation uninfected and accumulate the parasite over the summer. The majority of the clinical cases in camelids have occurred between September and March. Current recommendations to avoid resistance are to deworm with avermectins from September through December and to also focus on environmental control.13

Teeth Evaluation and Trimming

Incisor teeth will grow to replace the worn portion and in a normal animal will contact the dental pad. Mild to moderate superior brachygnathism is not uncommon and the incisor teeth may need to be trimmed. Male camelids also have six (two upper, one lower) fighting teeth, that should be cut or blunted to prevent injury to other animals or handlers. Retained deciduous incisors are frequently seen and should be removed.3


See sedation and general anesthesia drug dosages Tables 1 and 2. Intubation for gas anesthesia can be achieved using the proper laryngoscope blade. A 12-inch Miller blade simplifies intubation of camelids (A.M. Bickford, Inc., 800-795-3062).

Table 1. Sedation and general anesthetic dosages in New World camelids, sheep, goats, and pot-belly pigs

Llamas (mg/kg)

Alpacas (mg/kg)

0.07–0.1 IM

0.07–0.1 IM

0.2–0.3 IV
0.4–0.6 IM

0.1–0.2 IV
0.6–0.8 IM

Xylazine (0.2–0.3)+ketamine (0.2–0.3)+butorphanol (0.07–0.1) (IV)
Xylazine (0.2–0.5)+ketamine (0.2–0.5)+butorphanol (0.05–0.1) (IM)

Same as llamas

1.0–2.0 ml of mixture (IV)

0.5–1.5 ml of mixture IV, as needed

General anesthesia

Xylazine (0.3)+ketamine (3.7)+butorphanol (0.037) or 1 ml/50 lb+1 ml

Xylazine (0.4)+ketamine (4.6)+butorphanol (0.04) or 1 ml/40 lb+1 ml

Xylazine (0.2–0.55 IV) or (1.1 IM) when sedation is profound give ketamine (2.2 IV)

Same as llamas

4.0 IM
2.0 IV, up to 45-minute duration


Goats (mg/kg)

Sheep (mg/kg)

Xylazine (0.1–0.2 IV)
Butorphanol (0.01–0.02 IV) deep sedation for 60 minutes

Xylazine (0.1–0.2 IV)
Butorphanol (0.01–0.02 IV) deep sedation for 60 minutes

0.001–0.007 IV
0.01–0.04 IM

0.001–0.007 IV
0.01–0.04 IM

General anesthesia

Ketamine (0.1 ml/10 lb)+detomidine (0.01 ml/10 lb IV) add butorphanol (0.4 IV) for added analgesia
Reversal: half dose of detomidine as atipamezole IM


Xylazine (0.22 IM) wait 10 minutes then ketamine (11 IM) note: have also given half dose IV

Xylazine (0.22 IM) wait 10 minutes then ketamine (10–15 IM)

Telazol (5.5 IV)+butorphanol (0.1 IV) for additional time

Telazol (5.5 IV)+butorphanol (0.1 IV) for additional time

Pot-belly pigs (mg/kg)


General anesthesia

Butorphanol (0.1–0.4)+ace (1–3 mg) IM

Wait 20 minutes then mask down with isoflurane


Table 2. Reversal agents used in New World camelids, sheep, goats, and pot-belly pigs

Reversal agents




0.125 mg/k IM or half dose IV



1–2 mg/kg IM
Give 50% of initial dose slow IV or IM and then determine if more is needed9

Use with caution IV in camelids


0.1–0.2 mg/kg slow IV or IM



Common Medical Problems

Skin Diseases

Vague, often unsightly, alopecic skin conditions are common in camelids. Many skin problems are idiopathic and colloquially referred to as “munge.” Common locations are the bridge of the nose, periaural, inguinal, axilla, perianal, and ventral abdomen. Differential diagnoses are similar to other large animal species. Chorioptes mange is not an uncommon cause of alopecia and is most reliably diagnosed by skin scrapings performed in the interdigital area or axilla. Zinc-responsive dermatosis has been described and supplementation with zinc is reported to be of benefit in a number of dermatosis in camelids. Two to four grams of zinc methionine orally per day has been noted to be beneficial. Topical or systemic corticosteroid therapy is useful but has been anecdotally linked to abortions in camelids.5

Tooth Root Abscesses and Lumpy Jaw

Tooth root abscesses are primarily in the mandible, with M1 and M2 most commonly involved and seen in animals anywhere from 2–22 years of age. Diagnosis requires radiographs. Medical treatment with long-term antibiotics may be effective. Surgical removal of the affected tooth or teeth with long-term antibiotics has been 100% curative. A lateral alveolar plate resection is the surgical approach of choice to avoid causing a mandibular fracture. Antibiotics of choice are ceftiofur and florfenicol.2

Lumpy jaw is also fairly common. Actinomyces bovis has been variably cultured from these lesions.2,4 Long-term antibiotics, including penicillin G procaine, 22,000 IU/kg, SID along with oral organic iodide powder mixed with dextrose and administered at 3–5 g, SID for 3 weeks.4

Goats and Sheep

Preventive Care

Hoof Trimming

Overgrown hooves are common and can be a significant cause of lameness in sheep and goats.

Annual Vaccinations

Clostridium and tetanus. Rabies vaccines are approved for use in sheep.

Parasite Control

Deworming strategies should be based on fecal results. Haemonchus is the most significant parasite. Goats and sheep probably need higher dosages of anthelmintics than cattle. Anecdotal reports suggest that ivermectin be dosed at 300 µg/kg and only be administered orally.8


See sedation and general anesthesia drug dosages (Tables 1 and 2) and comments under New World camelids.

Common Medical Problems

Caprine Arthritis-Encephalitis Virus (CAE) and Ovine Progressive Pneumonia (OPP)

Both diseases are caused by nononcogenic retroviruses. The majority of animals infected with CAE or OPP are asymptomatic. CAE can cause four clinical syndromes: arthritis, mastitis, leukoencephalomyelitis, and interstitial pneumonia. Progressive arthritis is the most common clinical presentation. It occurs primarily in the carpal joints and is seen in goats as young as 6 months. OPP usually causes disease after years of infection. Pneumonia, mastitis, and chronic arthritis are the clinical syndromes seen. In both diseases, affected animals are infectious to others. Serum AGID tests are available for both CAE and OPP.10

Inappropriate Lactation Syndrome

Develops an enlarged udder (in some instances to the extent that it will impair locomotion) with no history of being bred. A thin milky to straw colored fluid may be milked from the udders. There are no clinical signs of mastitis. Ovarian and pituitary abnormalities have been reported with this condition. If the doe is not pregnant, administration of PGF2α (10 mg IM) can be given to rule out pseudopregnancy. Recommended treatment is udder amputation.11 OVH in kids may prevent this syndrome.


Extremely common in castrated goats. Also seen in all small ruminants and pot-belly pigs. Determining the presence of normal urination is the most important physical exam finding in the sick wether. Surgical correction via tube cystotomy or cystotomy with urethral hydropulsion along with urethrotomy can carry a good long-term prognosis and quality of life. Prevention can be achieved by dietary manipulations. Feed grass/hay ad libitum and no grain. Encourage water consumption by providing fresh water and gradually adding sodium chloride to achieve 3–5% of daily dry matter intake. Ammonium chloride at 0.5–1% of the daily dry matter intake will acidify the urine.12 However, ammonium chloride is extremely unpalatable and alternative acidifiers such as Bio-Chlor and SoyChlor may be used. (personal communication through American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners forum,

Pot-Belly Pigs

Preventive Care

Hoof Trimming

Overgrown toes and dew claws are very common. Trimming can be done in an awake animal but is usually more successful and quieter with anesthesia.

Annual Vaccinations

Erysipelas and tetanus are recommended in adult pigs.

Parasite Control

Deworming strategies should be based on fecal results.

Teeth Evaluation and Care

Males have continuously growing canine teeth (tusks) that must be regularly cut. Use Gigli wire or a dental drill. Females have much smaller tusks, that may become sharp and should be blunted. Dental exams and cleanings should be performed annually. Calculus, periodontal disease, and tooth loss are common in adult pigs.


See sedation and general anesthesia drug dosages (Tables 1 and 2). Intubation for gas anesthesia can be achieved easily using the proper laryngoscope blade (see New World camelids).

Common Medical Problems

Uterine Tumors and Pyometra

Common in older sows. Pigs present with firm, distended abdomen, and/or vaginal bleeding and purulent discharge. Both malignant and benign tumors have been diagnosed (unpublished data through Veterinary Information Network,; however, gross evidence of metastasis seems low. Surgical removal is straight forward. All female pigs should be spayed. The uterus is easy to locate and remove.

Tusk Abscesses

Appears to only affect lower tusks and primarily seen in older males. Clinical signs are soft tissue swelling around the jowls, and/or fistulous tracts and foul odor from the face or mouth. Multiloculated soft tissue abscesses are common. Radiographs show profound loss of bone around the affected tusk root. Removal is possible, if the oral portion of the tusk is loose, otherwise, long-term treatment with clindamycin or amoxicillin/clavulanate is the treatment of choice.


Seen in almost all adult pot-belly pigs. Primary sites are fetlocks, pasterns, and elbows. Proper hoof care, weight management, and housing on surfaces other than concrete may help delay onset or slow progression of the condition. Long-term use of NSAIDs marketed for osteoarthritis in canines or prednisone (20 mg, PO BID every other day) appear to be beneficial.

Zoonotic Disease Considerations

All you need to know is contained in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Compendium of Measures to Prevent Disease Associated with Animals in Public Settings, 2005. This is found at

Literature Cited

1.  Abrahamsen, E.J. 2004. Sedation and chemical restraint of camelids. In: Proc Cur Vet Care Mang Llamas and Alpacas. 25–26.

2.  Anderson, D.E. 2002. Tooth root abscess. In: Proc Camelid Med Surg Reprod Vet. 87.

3.  Fowler, M.E. 1998. Medicine and Surgery of South American Camelids, 2nd ed. Iowa State University Press, Ames, Iowa. 468–497.

4.  Huber, M.J. 2005. Facial masses other than tooth root abscesses in camelids. In: Proc Int Camelid Hlth Conf.

5.  Johnson, L.W. 2004. Skin diseases and ectoparasites. In: Proc Cur Vet Care Manag Llamas and Alpacas. 55–57.

6.  Kutzler, M.A. 2005. West Nile virus in alpacas and llamas. In: Proc Int Camelid Hlth Conf.

7.  Lin, H. and D.G. Pugh. 2002. Anesthetic management. In: D.G Pugh (ed). Sheep and Goat Medicine. WB Saunders, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 405–419.

8.  Navarre, C.B. and D.G. Pugh. 2002. Diseases of the gastrointestinal system. In: D.G Pugh (ed). Sheep and Goat Medicine. WB Saunders, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 69–106.

9.  Riebold, T. 2005. Anesthesia in south American camelids. In: Proc Int Camelid Hlth Conf.

10.  Reilly, L.K., A.N. Baird and D.G. Pugh. 2002. Diseases of the musculoskeletal system. In: D.G Pugh (ed). Sheep and Goat Medicine. WB Saunders, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 223–254.

11.  Ruffin, D.C., U. Christmann and D.G. Pugh. 2002. Diseases of the endocrine system. In: D.G Pugh (ed). Sheep and Goat Medicine. WB Saunders, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 187–196.

12.  Van Meter, D.C. et al. 1996. Obstructive urolithiasis in ruminants: surgical management and prevention. Comp Cont Ed Pract Vet. 18(10):S275–S289.

13.  Whitehead, C. and D.E. Anderson. 2005. Intestinal parasite control program. In: Proc Int Camelid Hlth Conf.


Speaker Information
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Peregrine L. Wolff, DVM
Peregrine L. Wolff, DVM, Inc.
Moorpark, CA, USA

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