Giving physical exams to 260 exotic animals

#topekatweetalong this week went around the Topeka Zoo with its veterinarian, Dr. Shirley Llizo


  1. Today I learned how similar animal health is to ours -- even for birds and insects.
  2. A lot of the equipment is the same -- in fact a lot of it is donated from the surrounding medical community.
  3. Animals need routine checkups, just like we do -- that's one of Dr. Llizo's primary jobs, actually.
  4. She has to rely a lot on information from the zoo keepers who interact with the animals each day -- kind of like our veterinarians rely on information from us about our furry family members.
  5. Dr. Llizo serves as a lot of functions for these animals. Functions that have human counterparts. Clinician. Internist. Surgeon. Dentist. Anesthesiologist. And she calls some of those counterparts -- OBGYN, ENT, radiologist -- in as consults.
  6. Some jobs are more pleasant ...
  7. ... than others
  8. Dr. Llizo is all these things, 24/7/365, to more than 260 animals -- from lions, tigers and bears to armadillos, birds and reptiles. She is one of two full time employees and has a budget of $207,661, including salaries.
  9. She's definitely a special person.
  10. Here's the Zoo's animal health strategy statement: We do everything we can at the highest level of integrity to support the health of the animals in our care. Every animal receives the same level of care. For the animals in our care, we always train, we always learn. The animals in our care deserve a leading edge philosophy.
  11. When she doesn't have an exam or procedure scheduled, like today, Dr. Llizo walks the grounds, looking at different animals and checking for abnormalities. Which has to be one of the greatest jobs on the planet.
  12. Today, we checked in on Snickers, a young Nigerian dwarf goat with arthritis in his left hoof. He's on pain medication and didn't put much weight on the leg, but he didn't seem to be in pain.