How disused hospital mattresses are helping endangered animals at Chester zoo

Mamy the aye-aye Credit: Chester Zoo

Disused heated baby-sized mattresses from a North West hospital are helping small animals at Chester Zoo.

They are being used to keep endangered species warm when they need to be anaesthetised for examinations or operations.

The mattresses were no longer suitable for poorly premature babies on the Neonatal Unit at Wirral Women and Children’s Hospital and replacement new equipment was being procured.

Vicky Hills, Neonatal Ward Manager at the Hospital, based at Arrowe Park in Wirral said: "Premature babies can’t regulate their own temperature and it’s vital that they don’t get cold.

"Laying them on heated mattresses helps to keep them warm while we transfer them from the labour ward to our unit. We were delighted when Chester Zoo said that they could use them for their smallest patients.”

Frankie, a buffy headed capuchin Credit: Chester Zoo

Alison Biggar, Senior Vet Nurse at Chester Zoo said: "They’ve already been a huge help in supporting the recovery of several endangered animals, as most species can’t regulate their own body temperature when under anaesthetic.

“We used the mats to help Mamy, a 35-year-old aye-aye who was having some problems eating. Our team performed a dental check and discovered she had an abscess, but after some pain relief and antibiotics, she’s right as rain.

"Aye-ayes are listed as vulnerable to extinction on the IUCN red list and typically live to around 30, so because of Mamy’s grand age, the mats really helped her during her recovery. "  

Cabot’s tragopan Credit: Chester Zoo

“The mats have also been used to help other endangered animals, like Frankie, a critically endangered buffy headed capuchin who we needed to give a first health check to.

“A six-year-old cabot’s tragopan, an endangered bird who had an infection in his eye, also benefited from the mats. The team took a biopsy to ensure he received the correct treatment, and the mats helped him stay warm and not use too much energy during his recovery.”