Columbus Zoo performs CAT scan on big cat

Zoo veterinary staff conduct a CAT scan on Tomo, an African Lion. (Photo/Columbus Zoo and Aquarium)

POWELL, Ohio -- The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium successfully used a refurbished CAT scanner on a big cat.The unit is a refurbished GE LightSpeed 16-slice CAT scanner purchased with donated funds.

Zoo staff conducted the scan last week on Tomo, a 14-year-old African Lion, to identify the extent of an infection in his gums. Officials said this would not be possible without the use of CAT imaging.

The Columbus Zoo is one of six zoos in the United States with computerized axial tomography (CAT, also known as CT) technology on site.

“The ability to add CAT technology to our diagnostic services keeps us on the cutting edge of zoo medicine, gives us critical diagnostic capabilities for our Zoo patients, and enables us to provide state-of-the-art training for our residents,” said Dr. Randy Junge, Vice President of Animal Health at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. “This machine will play an absolutely critical role in identifying potential or unseen health concerns within the animals in our care.”

Zoo veterinary staff said they found the infection within Tomo’s gums was localized and will resolve within two months of oral antifungal medication. The staff expects Tomo to make a full recovery after undergoing this treatment.

Before the installation of the CAT scan unit earlier last month, the Zoo would transport animals to The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine or MedVet Medical & Cancer Centers for Pets in Worthington.

The new CAT imaging suite is part of a renovation and expansion of the Mel Dodge and Dr. C. Joseph Cross Animal Health Center.

“With the addition of CAT imaging and space expansions for improved workflow efficiency, the Columbus Zoo is proud to continue being considered among the best-equipped zoo hospitals in the country for diagnostic technology and animal health care,” said Columbus Zoo and Aquarium President and CEO Tom Stalf.

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