Local clinic helps El Paso Zoo provide medical care to 120-year-old tortoise

El Paso News

El Paso, Texas (KTSM) — A partnership between The El Paso Zoo and Botanical Gardens and the El Paso Zoological Society is working with Southwest X-ray to help diagnose the 120-year-old Galapagos Tortoise, Ralph.

Southwest X-ray, a local diagnostic clinic, will provide further diagnostics after veterinary staff discovered a blockage in the turtle’s intestine.

“With our diverse range of zoo residents to care for, from fish to elephants, sometimes we need assistance from health care colleagues with specialized equipment and expertise,” says El Paso Zoo Chief Veterinarian Dr. Victoria Milne. “We are incredibly grateful to Southwest X-ray for stepping up to help us care for Ralph in this unique situation!”

The nearly 450-pound tortoise was too large for the Zoo’s X-Ray system, so he was transported and escorted by zoo staff where the imaging lab’s specialized high-power X-Ray system was able to accommodate him.

Local imaging service technicians at Southwest X-ray donated both their time and equipment to get Ralph a much-needed X-ray at their facility. The El Paso Zoological Society reached out to the organization at the beginning of April, and they promptly agreed to lend a helping hand; offering zoo veterinary staff the ability to move forward with the next steps in Ralph’s care with even more information on his intestinal blockage.

“Southwest X-ray is very excited and proud to have been able to participate in caring for Ralph. We are here to help the community in every way we can,” said Southwest X-ray Manager Fernando Escarzaga.

Veterinary staff will continue to determine the best course of action to take for Ralph’s medical condition.

“Having strong and loyal supporters like Southwest X-ray in our community is invaluable,” said El Paso Zoo Society President Pam Agullo. “The support and assistance we have received from Southwest X-ray has been extraordinary, we are forever grateful.”

The Galapagos native first arrived to the El Paso Zoo in 2016 after transferring from the Phoenix Zoo as part of a Species Survival Program through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. 

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