On November 5, 2018, we visited the Cleveland Metro parks Zoo and we spent some time in the Sarah Allison Steffee Center for Zoological Medicine.
I would consider this somewhat a ‘hidden gem’ inside the Cleveland Zoo. It is nestled back behind the Rising Waters Safari Camp, just past the Rhino exhibit and building. On most of our visits to the zoo, we either spend very minimal time in this building or we’ve skipped it. Since it was a little chillier outside, we decided to spend a bit more time exploring this building and it was well worth it!
According to the Cleveland Zoological Society, the center is “dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment and surgical procedures, has a radiology lab, clinical labs an endocrinology lab and a pharmacy.” And actually, the site map inside the facility shows that their is much more to this facility than the typical visitor actually gets to see.
This center walks through the care of animals from birth to end of life. Along the way, there are interactive activities for kids, for example, filling crates with the appropriate meal items for various animals and a diagnostic challenge. The diagnostic challenge steps you through the process of determining what is wrong with an animal and the diagnostic tools that a veterinarian might use to determine it. My 3 year old especially loved these areas. She loved pretending to care for the animals and prepare their food for the day and she also loved pretending she was a veterinarian problem solving why the animal was sick.
The absolute best part of this center for visitors is being able to see scientists provide veterinary services to the animals. There are 4 rooms visible to guests – 3 surgical / procedural rooms and 1 imaging room (i.e. for x-rays).
We were lucky and a procedure was schedule that day at 11:30am. We were able to observe the veterinary staff provide health services to a scarlet macaw. This was extremely fun. We saw the animal put under anesthesia and the veterinary staff check it’s heart, feathers, skin, talons, and beak. They also took some x-rays of the bird. The veterinary staff briefly brought the animal up to the window for everyone to see it up close also.
My understanding is that a veterinary procedure could be happening at any point depending on the needs of the zoo, however I did speak to another zoo member that day and she has observed many procedures there. She mentioned that the procedures typically occur around 11:30 am or 2pm each day. This particular one was at 11:30am.
So, if you are there, you might want to check out the center around those times of day! This was such a great experience for children. My daughters were able to compare their doctors appointments to what was happening to the animal. My daughter had questions about why the scarlet macaw had to go under anesthesia for a simple procedure, while she did not for her doctor appointments. She was also able to make the connection to some of the interactive exhibits in the center.
I am a member of the Cleveland Metro parks Zoo but I have no other affiliation with them. I was not asked to provide this review and I did not talk directly with any member of the zoo about this blog post. All opinions and viewpoints in this post are 100% my own.
Have you seen this type of procedure at the zoo near you? Which zoo? What other uniques experiences have your children had at the zoo you’ve attended to help introduce various STEM fields to them? Let me know in the comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org.