January 20th, 2019 was National Penguin Awareness Day! Coincidentally, this comes just after African Penguin Nesting Season. Nesting season is an exciting time as it helps zoos and aquariums to further the Species Survival Plan (SSP) which aims at maintaining genetic diversity and species population despite challenging situations. Sometimes, penguins can have injuries that affect their ability to walk which can also affect their ability to nest. When we see a penguin limping or walking in a non-uniform manner, it alludes that there is an underlying problem occurring.
I have been performing acupuncture on two African Penguins helping to alleviate documented joint discomfort. One of the penguins has joint discomfort along the spine called intervertebral disc disease. This penguin walks in a non-uniform manner which lead veterinarians to investigate further. The second penguin has joint discomfort in his back foot. This penguin walks by favoring his good leg and protecting his painful leg. This penguin also wears a specially made boot to protect and support the affected joint when swimming and walking.
Penguins are surprisingly excellent acupuncture patients! Their treatments are performed every other week and they commonly fall asleep during their sessions. Acupuncture needles are significantly smaller than regular blood-drawing needles so they are not painful when inserted. The acupuncture needles used in these patients are also coated in silicone which helps them to glide into the skin and underneath tissue easier. Acupuncture treatments in both of these penguins is focused around stimulating nerve and blood flow centers that will help to decrease pain and inflammation throughout the body. If inflammation is decreased, pain will also be decreased.
Acupuncture has helped both of these penguins to be more comfortable during nesting season and beyond! Stay tuned for more updates and more exotic acupuncture patients!