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A Health Check With Bite at Adelaide Zoo

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: April 1, 2021 11:30 pm

Adelaide Zoo Alligator Health Check

Keepers hold an American alligator while she undergoes her vet check at Adelaide Zoo

Photo Credit: Zoos SA

Zookeepers at Adelaide Zoo have put themselves in the firing line as they undertook a health check on their pair of American alligators. Also this week they attended to a resident capybara, Dalia.

Alligator duo George and Barbara received a house call for their annual health check. This helps to ensure they are perfect health.

As part of this keepers weighed the pair with George coming in at a massive 142kg (313lbs) while Barbara came in at 69kg (152lbs). While Barbara is much smaller this is not uncommon for female American alligators.


It does mean that to keep vets safe while they worked on George four staff and some rope were needed to restrain him during the check while three would suffice for Barbara.

Adelaide Zoo Alligator Health Check

An X-ray is conducted on the foot of an American alligator at Adelaide Zoo

Photo Credit: Zoos SA

During the check the pair also had x-rays and blood taken along with recording their body measurements. At the end of the health check vets were pleased to report that the pair are in good health.

“Both George and Barbara are in great shape; they are looking very healthy,” says Zoos SA Veterinarian David McLelland.


“George is a very healthy weight and could do to lose a couple of kilos but this is something that is easily manageable through his diet.”


George and Barbara have been Adelaide Zoo residents since 1989.

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Elsewhere in the zoo vets attended to Dalia, an eight year old capybara. Dalia is well acquainted with vets who have been managing chronic diarrhoea associated with an inflammatory bowel disease with medication.

Recently keepers noticed that she appeared under the weather and was keeping to the corners of her enclosure. Vets decided it was time to investigate further and anaesthetized her which allowed them to complete a physical exam, x-ray, ultrasound and take bloods.

Through this process vets were able to discover a large amount of gas in the intestine.

Adelaide Zoo Alligator Health Check

Dalia the capybara being transported to the Animal Health Center at Adelaide Zoo

Photo Credit: Zoos SA

“The intestines of capybaras are normally full of digesting high fibre food. Dalia’s gut fill was very low and this can lead to the motility of the intestine slowing, with disruption to the gut microbiome and accumulation of gas.”


“Gut stasis is a common medical problem in guinea pigs, and capybara are kind of like giant guinea pigs.”

With treatment her condition has improved greatly. “Getting a lot of high fibre feeds back into her seems to have got her gut going again; Dalia looks to be back to her normal self which is great news,” finishes David.

Adelaide Zoo regularly conduct health checks on their animals to ensure they remain healthy and happy.

Adelaide Zoo Alligator Health Check

Dalia the capybara during her health check at the Adelaide Zoo's Animal Health Center

Photo Credit: Zoos SA

Learn more about the Capybara here – Capybara Fact File | The Animal Facts

Learn more about the Adelaide Zoo on their website – Adelaide Zoo

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