An exotic bird almost killed by curiosity after eating a metal screw is back on its feet, thanks to cutting-edge hospital equipment and quick-thinking vets.
The South American Red-Legged Seriema – named Elvis despite being female – was taken to Edinburgh University’s specialist Hospital for Small Animals by keepers at the Blair Drummond Safari Park, near Stirling.
Staff at the park did not know that Elvis had swallowed ironmongery but noticed that she was “quiet” and struggling to eat.
On arrival at the university, Elvis was seen by vets from the exotics department who teamed up with experts in internal medicine.
They tested her blood and referred her to colleagues for a CT scan, whereupon the metal screw in her stomach showed up and solved the mystery of her lethargy and loss of appetite.
Using an “innovative” miniaturised camera, vets from the university’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies homed in on the object and removed it without invasive surgery.
Elvis is now back home in Blair Drummond and eating normally.
Experts say that red-legged seriemas are inquisitive and often peck at items they find interesting. Swallowing things such as screws can be very harmful to their health, causing poisoning or even tearing of the intestines.
Vet Dr Bronwyn Koterwas of the Exotic Animal and Wildlife Medicine and Surgery Service at the Hospital for Small Animals said yesterday: “Elvis was very poorly when she came to us. Thanks to our advanced scanning equipment and dedicated team of experts working across departments we were able to rapidly spot what was wrong. We are delighted that Elvis has left the building and has returned safely to Blair Drummond.”
Animal Collection Manager at Blair Drummond Safari Park Sheila Walker, said: “It is imperative that when any of our animals are sick that they are seen by vets with expertise and the experience necessary to treat the species and we are very fortunate that the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies is only a short drive away.
“Elvis does a short walk from her aviary to the presentation ground and we think that is where she possibly picked up the screw. Our keepers now do a quick sweep of the track before bringing her out.”
Red-legged seriemas are native to South America, stand over three feet tall on “distinctive, spindly legs”, and prefer to run, rather than fly, reaching up to 15mph.