Saturday, March 17, 2007

Fantastic Fossa Facts

Another personal technological breakthrough: I figured out how to add a hit counter!

I wasn't able to get onto the computer yesterday, so I'll give you a morning update. The biggest event of yesterday was the immobilization of a fossa (pronounced FOO-sa). And the biggest part of that was that I got to do the whole procedure! Dr. Armstrong was there for advice and guidance, but I got to come up with the drug dosages, put the dart together, blow dart the fossa, do the whole physical exam, clean his teeth and ears and then give the reversal agent. The whole procedure went very well, which I was especially relieved about since this particular animal had had some difficult immobilizations in the past. It was great practice, because I had to tweak the drug dosages based what had been done before and find something that would work better for him. I ended up increasing everything a bit, and it worked great! Almost a little too great! He was lateral in 4 minutes after the dart (normal time for my combo should be around 10 minutes), which we thought meant either (1) I went with too high a dosage, or (2) part of the dose went IV (intravenous) instead of all IM (in muscle). Neither is a big problem, but both need to be recognised so that -- if a problem does come up -- it can be dealt with. The fossa was still a bit reactive, so it took the expected amount of time before "hands on." (picture at left from Judging from the depth, quality, and duration of his anesthesia, Dr. Armstrong was fairly certain by the end that no more than a small amount of drug had gone IV (if any) and the drug dose was appropriate for him.

Anyway, now would probably be a good time to say a little about the fossa! They are the largest mammalian carnivore on Madagascar, and hunt everything from insects to amphibians to lemurs. (picture at right from Cat-like in appearance and movement, they are amazingly good climbers that can hunt lemurs through the treetops of the rainforest. They can be aggressive towards conspecifics (their own species), so they are typically kept in solitary exhibits. Males are typically slightly larger than females. The fossa that I immobilized was around 20 lbs. They have an very long, cat-like tail for balancing as they run around in the trees. They are very elusive in the wild and are thought to be mostly nocturnal. (picture at left from Though they do have all of these cat-like attributes about them, they are most closely related to mongooses. Fossa are considered Endangered with an estimated population of less than 2500 in the wild. The biggest problem is that the remaining animals are scattered in isolated patches of forest throughout the island which has been separated by deforestation. Then of course, there is the problem that these opportunistic hunters cannot resist a few domestic chickens now and again, which certainly doesn't endear them to Malagasy farmers.
So, that's it on the fossa for now! Here is one more very nice picture from the San Antonio Zoo. It is hard to get good pictures here, because they are in a nocturnal exhibit. And when I was doing the work on the fossa yesterday, I wasn't able to take any time and get a few good pictures of him! (picture below from
And here are a few more favorite pictures I've taken. This pair of storks can be seen in the outdoor aviary at the HDZ. They have been working on a nest on top of one of the gazebos there. According to many, a stork nest on your property is a sign of good luck!

1 comment:

singer_dancer said...

Hi! Such a cool blog! I love animals