Teaching Hospital: Senior and Special Needs Care
Birds are fragile creatures. Their hollow bones can easily fracture, and their delicate respiratory systems leave them prone to infection. Birds are also incredibly resilient, and with veterinary care and attention, they can thrive and live long lives. The National Aviary’s Teaching Hospital is home to birds who require extra nursing care for conditions related to age or a disability.
Just as humans face challenges as they get older, birds can also develop common age-related conditions, such as arthritis and cataracts. Female birds can become “egg-bound,” a condition that prevents them from passing eggs naturally and requires immediate medical assistance or surgery to save their life. Some birds develop kidney conditions as they age which can lead to gout, but can be treated successfully with human-grade prescriptions modified for each bird’s needs.
Each year, more than 50 pre-veterinary and veterinary technician students from around the world come to the National Aviary to train in the Teaching Hospital. In this setting, the students care directly for senior and special needs birds while gaining invaluable experience in avian medicine. Students learn to administer medications, prepare and feed meals to the birds, perform husbandry, and assist with check-ups.
The National Aviary’s Teaching Hospital strives to provide the best possible lifestyle to its residents, and to give them the habitats and nursing care that they need to continue thriving into old age, while training the next generation of avian veterinarians.