Having a blood test at King's Mill Hospital (11 years old and under)
How to Get a Blood Sample from a Trained Dolphin
Ever wonder how vets can take place a needle into an animal and have the animal be perfectly ok with it? How can a trainer take blood from a killer whale or dolphin? Here is how! These directions are for someone just starting out in the field forstrictly informational purposes, some facilities may do husbandry procedures a little differently. This procedure is only to be performed by professionals in the field.
Walk onto the platform, with food bucket in hand for positive reinforcement.You should point at the dolphin and point lead the dolphin to a station directly in front of you.
Walk to about 5 inches (12.7 cm) from the edge of the platform, still directly in front of the dolphin, and kneel down.Maintain eye contact and stationing behavior of dolphin at all times.
With the dolphin still at the station, place your right hand gently on the dolphin's rostrum (nose).
With the hand that is on the dolphins’ rostrum, gently push towards dolphin, as if pushing the dolphin's head away from you.At this point, the dolphin will lay backwards and present its flukes (tail) for you.
Gently grab onto its flukes and place into your lap, allowing the dolphin to relax and feel comfortable.If dolphin does not present its tail correctly, complete a Least Reinforcing Stimulus (LRS) by waiting three seconds and ignoring the dolphin. Then try the hand maneuvers again. If the dolphin layout is requested three times and not done properly, stop sample behavior and move on; try the sample later in the day, or next day.
Prepare.You can begin the sample procedure once dolphin is in position and fully relaxed, no tense flukes. Make sure that the entire blood sample kit is present with you.
Kneel down next to the trainer on the side that sample will be taken from.
Run a finger along the dark line in the fluke; this is the main blood vessel.Once sample spot is found, rub three times, in a circular motion, with an alcohol swab.
Repeat swab procedure for a second time.
Get a needle with a capsule for the sample out from kit and insert the tip of the needle into the vein.
Draw the sample.
- Once the needle is inserted, pull back the top of the needle (plunger portion) to draw blood inside of the capsule.
- Once capsule is full, remove the needle and place the sample back into the kit.
Rub the injection site with a new alcohol swab to clean the area.
Stand up and walk away from the trainer and dolphin, with the entire blood sample kit.
Finish up.After the procedure, tap twice with your hand on the dolphins’ fluke to signal the end of the sample taking and that the dolphin can return to its normal stationing position. If the procedure went well, reward the dolphin with reinforcement, i.e., food, toys, rub down, play, etc.
- During the entire sample taking procedure, the trainer should be trying to keep the animal calm with small rub downs on the flukes.
- Watch the animal's behavior prior to trying for a sample. If the dolphin seems very aggressive or uncooperative one day then you might want to complete the sample at another time.
- Dolphins are large and possibly aggressive animals. It takes years for a trainer to build up a relationship with an animal and lots of time training a behavior for it to occur smoothly. There must be a great deal of trust between the trainer, dolphin, and veterinarian for this procedure to work properly. If a dolphin becomes aggressive at any point they canbite, hit with their flukes (very strong), move the needle, etc. Not only could you get hurt but the animal might get injured as well.
- The instructions here are only to be performed by trained professionals.
Video: Blood Test Procedure | Nuffield Health
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