LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – For one big cat, an out-of-state specialist and a local veterinarian, it’s been quite a journey of healing.
The Little Rock Zoo says it’s an accredited facility with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, giving them a network of specialists to treat its animals. In this case, it was a new experience for everyone, the animal included.
A Missouri specialist, who normally specializes in helping humans with kidney stones, recently treated a serval named Akida at the Little Rock Zoo that had the same diagnosis.
Little Rock Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Sarah Stoneburg has a lot of animals to take care of, but a certain big cat needed a little extra attention earlier in the year.
“What we noticed in Akida actually had some kidney stones,” Stoneburg said.
Stoneburg said Akida is a 16-year-old male serval that weighs around 28 pounds. She also says he is one of the oldest cats they have in the zoo, and because of his kidney stones, Stoneburg said he needed a specialist. This led to them working with Missouri Lithotripsy Specialist Don Wilson.
“It [the phone call] was a surprise, it was something I always dreamed of,” Wilson said.
Stoneburg said they are always looking for innovative procedures for their animals and the one that Wilson offered was something they had never used before on their animals.
“There are no scopes involved with what I do, there are no lasers, there is no cutting. I just focus and send shock waves and 90 percent of the time it crushes the stone,” Wilson said.
Wilson says before they called him, he had never used the procedure on an animal before as he usually treats human patients.
“I’ve treated well over 8000 human patients, so it was nice to treat a furry critter that I loved snuggling,” Wilson said.
Wilson said he had to change some of his methods to treat Akida including shaving off a portion of the fur to make sure the procedure was accurate. He also said Akida had two large kidney stones for which they did a two-part procedure for starting on Jan. 25.
Wilson goes on to say that after that procedure, the next one was on Feb. 16. After completing that one he said he feels confident that his procedure worked.
“My job was to crush that stone into small enough fragments that he would pass it in his urine,” Wilson said.
Stoneburg added that she also feels like the procedure worked but they still have a long way to go as far as recovery.
“Our keepers are keeping on top of him making sure he is drinking plenty and urinating every day so we don’t have any complications after the procedure,” Stoneburg said.
Stoneburg said her hope is for Akida to go back to his normal routine and be back with his serval female mate, Louise.
“He actually has been paired with Louise so hopefully maybe in the future we will have baby servals,” Stoneburg said.
Stoneburg did say that it might take a couple of days before zoo-goers can expect to see Akida in their serval attraction, but it will be a sight to see.