Veterinarians from the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Bronx Zoo are using osmotic pumps to provide pain relief for big cats after surgery.

The capsule sized osmotic pump, ranging between 1.5 and 5.1 cms, is surgically implanted just beneath the surface of the skin to provide continuous pain relief for big cats while they recover from surgery. The outer case of the osmotic pump is permeable and the medication resides in a bag within the osmotic pump.

Plasma from the animal is drawn into the casing of the pump through osmosis and the medication diffuses out through a small opening at the top of the osmotic pump. The flow of the medication out of the osmotic pump is constant allowing veterinarians to control the rate of dosing through the concentration of the drug in the osmotic pump.

Vice President and Director of WCS’s Global Health Program Dr. William Karesh said: “This is a great example of how existing methodologies can be adapted for usage in wild cats in captive breeding programs. It’s a win-win in that it reduces the effort by veterinarians to treat big cats while helping to reduce stress and thus speed healing in the cats themselves.”

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