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New Zoo Medical Equipment Updated

By Spc. Chad D. Wilkerson, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Nov. 5, 2003 – The residents of the Baghdad Zoo will benefit from recent equipment purchases by U.S. Army civil affairs and medical command soldiers.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Dr. (Lt. Col.) Jose Lozada, a veterinarian with the 490th Civil Affairs Battalion, Task Force 1st Armored Division, unpacks new surgical and diagnostic equipment for use at the Baghdad Zoo. Photo by Spc. Chad D. Wilkerson, USA

(Click photo for screen-resolution image)

"We purchased new surgical and diagnostic equipment for use on the animals at the Baghdad Zoo," said Dr. (Lt. Col.) Jose Lozada, veterinarian with the 490th Civil Affairs Battalion, an Army Reserve unit from Abilene, Texas. The battalion is part of Task Force 1st Armored Division.

The zoo was reportedly once the largest in the Middle East. Looters stole some animals that survived combat operations in the Iraq war. Others remained abandoned and malnourished till the U.S. military, with help from civilian non-profit agencies, stepped in and improved conditions.

The veterinarians purchased $42,000 in equipment for the zoo, including an autoclave for instrument sterilization, an X-ray machine for animal bone-structure assessment, and a vaporizer to accurately measure anesthesia drugs, Lozada said.

"The idea is to bring the veterinary capabilities of the Baghdad Zoo up to a 21st century standard," he said. "The value of these machines is immeasurable when it comes to the functionality and effectiveness of the zoo."

Dr. Adel Salman, chief veterinarian and director of the Baghdad Zoo, has seen the daily impact of the Army's reconstruction efforts at the zoo. He said the new equipment is a huge stride forward for the facility in animal care and welfare.

"Before the help from the U.S. Army, the zoo was very poor for equipment. There was no surgical capability and little treatment ability because we had no anesthesia or instruments," said Salman. "We really appreciate support from Lt. Col. Lozada and the U.S. Army."

The portable X-ray machine, part of the equipment purchased with Commander's Emergency Response Program funds from the 352nd Civil Affairs Command, an Army Reserve unit from Riverdale, Md., will add significant mission flexibility to the zoo staff by allowing them to X-ray animals inside their enclosures, said Lozada.

In the past, this process would have taken several helpers to sedate and truck the animals being treated to a local clinic for examination, said Lozada. This is considerably more difficult, and more dangerous, than on-site treatment.

Another benefit of the new equipment, he said, is the opportunity to train the zoo staff on modern equipment and medical technology.

"Our No. 1 priority is to train the zoo vets on their equipment and teach them how to perform surgical procedures," Lozada said.

(Spc. Chad D. Wilkerson is assigned to the 372nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)


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