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Caring for animals at Paignton Zoo is a real team effort. Take the work that goes into looking after the zebras’ hooves. With horses it’s straightforward, but the zebras are wild animals. The task requires vets, vet nurses, keepers, a farrier, a lot of mobile technology and a general anaesthetic.

All the zebras have their feet checked periodically; today it’s the turn of male Urias. He is anaesthetised by Paignton Zoo vets Ghislaine Sayers and Jo Reynard. Equipment is set up to monitor his heart rate and breathing and to control the flow of anaesthetic gas. Once he’s stable the farrier examines, measures and trims his hooves.
Robbie Richardson styles himself as a barefoot farrier, a specialist in working with animals that do not require shoes.

Zoo vet Ghislaine Sayers is a strong advocate of preventative medicine, which means tackling the source of problems and not just the symptoms. Ghislaine: “The Hartmann’s mountain zebra is a creature of stony highlands - in the wild their hooves wear down as they walk on bare rock. Here we have an area of hard-standing outside the stables and the keepers put sand inside the stables to act as abrasive. In the future a network of hard paths may crisscross the paddock to encourage the zebras to walk further for food on a harder surface.”

Urias is brought round from the anaesthetic – always a tense time – and everyone packs up their equipment. Later that day he is back in the paddock with the other zebras, females Taru and Goma.

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