Shombay gets special care at Reid Park Zoo

The animals, as the old cliché goes, are running Reid Park Zoo.

Around the clock, staff at Reid Park Zoo are busy caring for animals from around the globe. It’s a story that begins when an animal first arrives at the Zoo to when the animal care staff leaves each day- only to return back to care for the animals we love.

Providing quality animal care is the top priority for the staff at Reid Park Zoo. In 2016, together we committed to a new standard of care at the Zoo with the new Animal Health Center. The real story behind Reid Park Zoo’s new Animal Health Center is a love story — people and animals.



“Every relationship between keeper and animal is unique,” Zoo Administrator Jason Jacobs said. “That bond is so important. It’s the trust the animals place in our staff that enables us to take care of them.”

Because of his trust-based bond, Zoo Keeper Alec Young is able to help take care of male lion Shombay.

The process of having an adult male lion voluntarily accept subcutaneous fluids did not begin with a needle. It began with Reid Park Zoo’s world class animal care. After several months of training, Alec patiently reached various steps in Shombay’s animal care plan. First, Alec would poke Shombay. When the lion was used to that, Alec began using a tool, which was less comfortable, in order to prepare Shombay for a needle. When Shombay was ready, the animal care staff began using a needle, then finally, the fluid transfer.

“Zoo keepers do everything—clean and feed, and monitor animal behaviors and their health,” said Zoo General Curator Sue Tygielski said. “Just because you can’t go in with them doesn’t mean you can’t develop a relationship with them. We spend so much time building trust — so a lion will voluntarily take sub-q fluids when he needs it.”

While there’s no cure for Shombay’s condition, with the care from Reid Park Zoo’s staff, he has no symptoms and his quality of care is excellent. Moreover, the quality of care the Zoo is able to provide to the animals we all love creates a better experience for the community who come to visit and support the animals.

“So much happens behind the scenes that we look forward to sharing in the new Animal Health Center,” said Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Alexis Moreno. “For us, it’s all about the animals. We’re here to share our love of animals and the quality care we can provide and pioneer here with the people who come to visit them.”


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