New CAT scanner at Columbus Zoo sees first patient: An African lion

Veterinary staff at the Columbus Zoo use CAT imaging on Tomo, a 14-year-old African lion (photo courtesy: Columbus Zoo and Aquarium/WCMH)

POWELL, OH (WCMH) — The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium continues to be on the cutting edge of animal care as they put their new CAT scanner to the test on an unusual patient: a lion named Tomo.

On Thursday, zoo veterinary staff used the scanner to identify the extent of a gum infection on Tomo, a 14-year-old African lion. It would have been impossible to determine the severity of the infection without the use of CT imaging. Veterinary staff discovered that Tomo’s infection was localized and he is expected to make a full recovery after two months of oral anti-fungal medication.

The Columbus Zoo is one of only six zoos in the United States to have computerized axial tomography (also known as CAT or CT) technology on site. The unit was installed during the recent renovation of the Mel Dodge and Dr. C. Joseph Cross Animal Health Center, which officially opened in August.

“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.

Prior to having on-site CAT imaging, animals had to be transported to the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine or to MedVet Medical & Cancer Center for Pets. With the new scanner, veterinarians can now perform CAT scans on large animals, such as gorillas or lions, quickly and safely right at the Zoo.

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