And this is the best way to castrate a hippo

Illustration for article titled And this is the best way to castrate a hippo

You know what sounds difficult? Castrating an unwilling two-ton animal. You know what sounds more difficult? Castrating an unwilling two-ton animal that can hide its testes inside its body, "where they can shift around and even retract away from a vet's grasping forceps during surgery."p

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The ability to stash and reposition one's testicles is among the many enviable skills of the hippopotamus. According to ScienceNEWS' Lizzie Wade, it's an ability that has bedeviled zoo veterinarians (who regularly castrate hippos "in hopes of controlling the size of captive populations and reducing the number of fights between the males of this aggressive species") for close to 100 years. Now, a team of vets working in Europe and Israel have published an in-depth, "nearly foolproof" method for hippo castration in the latest issue of Theriogenology that uses sonogram and careful massage to overcome what they characterize as the "spatially dynamic nature of the common hippopotamus testis." Helpfully, they have included illustrations (see above). Wade has a good lay-description over at ScienceNEWS. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

[Theriogenology via ScienceNOW via Brian Switek]

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DISCUSSION

On a similar note:

Gender-neutral veterinarian practice has many a fan

By BAXTER BLACK

There’s a practice in a practice of a vet who works on horses

That embodies the machismo of their kind.

I was taught this ancient practice, castrating horses standing,

Meaning, both he and I were standing at the time.

To cognize the difficulty, the mule-headedness required

To complete this task of surgery and cunning

One must grasp its deeper meaning. It’s been favorably compared

To changing fan belts with the engine running

Or standing on a bar stool taking bets from one and all

You can stick your head up through the ceiling fan

And never touch a single blade, or spill a drop of beer

The epitome of every cultured man

As a student I remember Doctor Voss’ demonstration

As he strode up to the stallion’s heaving flank,

“Hold him tight!” he told the helpers who were hanging on the head,

The twitch flew loose, this stud was pretty rank,

He tried to bite the halter man but only caught his collar

And slung him to the ground with such a force

His underwear turned inside out! “This is the chosen method

To reduce the chance of injuring the horse.”

“You will notice,” Doc proceeded, “That I grasp and pull down firmly.

Some resist,” (Really? I reckon I would, too!)

With syringe and anesthetic he injected both the cords

Then, finished, backed away a step or two

“Now we wait.” “Obviously,” said a student in the back who knew it all,

“To allow the Lidocaine to take effect.”

Dr. Voss looked at him blankly. “No, so you can quit your shaking

Long enough to go ahead and testisect!”

Less you think this macho culture is confined to men alone

I remind you lady vets now rule the world

And a veterinary practice that might specialize in equine

Can easily be run by boys or girls.

And I can personally attest that cutting horses standing

Is a gender-neutral practice in vet med.

Cause last weekend Dr. Nancy examined my old pony

And I saw the ceiling fan scars on her head!