Polar bear gets his first CT scan at Brookfield Zoo

BROOKFIELD, Ill. (WLS) -- A 12-year-old polar bear at the Brookfield Zoo got an extra-special check-up this week when he received his first CT Scan.

The Chicago Zoological Society veterinary and animal care staff were able to fit Hudson, a 1,000 pound male polar bear, into the machine thanks to a new table designed to hold animals up to 2,200 pounds.

Previously, only animals weighing up to 660 pounds or less were able to fit on the CT scan's table, but that all changed at the end of last year when grant funding helped the zoo purchase a new table for larger animals. Hudson's CT scan was part of a routine physical examination, but this time the veterinary and animal care staff were able to collect images they had never been able to acquire before and provide better preventative care.
"Being able to get baseline CT images on a polar bear is a significant accomplishment to advance the medical well-being for the species under managed care," said Dr. Michael Adkesson. "It allows us to assess Hudson's joints, internal organs, and overall health. The images provide us with a reference to monitor his health over time and can also be used to compare to other polar bears in the future if needed."

The team also collected semen from Hudson to be used for assisted reproductive techniques with two female polar bears. These techniques are still being developed in polar bears, but according to the CZS, they hold great promise for the overall population of the species in zoos.

Polar bears breed seasonally and only produce one to two cubs per year, so specialists like the ones who treated Hudson are interested in developing assisted reproductive techniques to aid the rate of successful breeding.

As climate change and the loss of arctic sea ice continue to threaten this already endangered species, animal care teams like Brookfield Zoo's are continuously making innovations to ensure that polar bears survive for generations to come.
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