The end of my marine mammal summer school

dolphins jumping

Well I am currently writing this as I sit on the train on my way to Munich to then keep going back towards Slovakia. There is a little stress as my train was delayed by 30 minutes which meant I would miss my connection to Budapest, however the previously delayed train arrived as the station staff were debating what to do with me. So at present I am on an delayed earlier train which is pretty much running at the same time as the train I am scheduled to be on.

So anyways, sadly my week long marine mammal summer school is over, I’m exhausted now (if I make my Munich connection I got a 9 hour journey to sleep!) however my brain is still buzzing with all the information that has been packed into it. Today was more about the studbook and population management programs. This is where the zoo environment can play a role In bringing species back into the wild. For example one of the first programs was for the black footed ferret which went extinct in the wild towards the end of the 1970’s. In 1985 a captive breeding program using 18 captive animals allowed the species to be reintroduced which I think is pretty cool. Obviously this was only possible as the environment for these animals was still there (unlike the environments now wiped out because of palm oil or deforestation).

The next talk was one I was pretty excited about, we had international marine mammal veterinary consultant Geraldine Lacave to teach us as much as she could about reproduction. Now this is an interesting topic, and one that uses a lot of specialised techniques. Salt water is actually lethal for sperm, and so dolphins for example have evolved a cervix which prevents the contamination of sperm with water. A lot of reproduction is monitoring and this is usually done with ultrasound – because of the size of muscles and blubber layers there are very specific acoustic windows that must be used for this on each species.

We then finished up with a look at the zoo’s and the public which was very interesting to get an inside perspective on. Whilst people have a right to protest, the question here was when it came to people protesting animal welfare, where did the staff welfare stand?

Looking at crude fat (ether extract)… (Day 187)

Animal Nutrition Ether Extract Continuous Extraction of Crude Fat

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Spikes World Wildlife Food

Another Friday, this one marking the end of week 5, its amazing how fast time is going and how little it feels I have achieved. Every spare moment I get is going into finishing Emergency First Aid for Animals, when I sat down and started this I had no clue how big the task would actually be. I am a perfectionist however I also realise that sometimes it’s is a case of balancing perfection with getting things done – in this instance however I am taking the route of caution to make sure that I can back up everything in the book with solid medical fact to ensure the best outcome for cases that follow it.

Anyways onto today, we spent nutrition today looking at the crude fat portion of feed, this is commonly thought of as the fat portion of the sample. This however is a gross simplification as in fact this portion contains organic acids (Essential Fatty Acids), oils, alcohols and the important fat soluble vitamins. Fats are important within the body as they act as electron carriers, substrate carriers in enzymatic reactions, components of biological membranes and as stores of energy.

In fact in obese animals around 97% of adipose tissue is composed of fat storing energy, lipids also help give structure to muscle and have an impact on cholesterol.

Animal Nutrition Ether Extract Continuous Extraction of Crude FatNow the fat potion of the sample is solvent soluble, so the sample is continuously extracted using diethyl ether which dissolves the fat in the sample. Using the apparatus in the image above the ether is in the bottom beaker (which is weighed when it is empty) which is heated, it then evaporates as gas before the condenser (at the top) cools it and it collects as liquid in the middle sample chamber. It stays in the sample chamber (in the middle with the paper sample filter) until it reaches a critical level it then it is returned to the bottom beaker. This process is repeated for around 6 hours or overnight to ensure all the fat is dissolved in the solvent. Once this is done the sample chamber is removed and the ether collected to be reused and removed by distillation – when a miniscule amount remains the bottom beaker is then dried in a vacuum oven and cooled in a desiccator. The bottom beaker is then weighed and the difference in the new weight – the starting weight is the amount of crude fat in the sample.