In this article, you will get all information regarding ‘We Got a Beep’: John Ball Zoo Vet Talks About Finding Dime Inside Penguin

Grand Rapids, Mich. (Wood) – A Magellanic penguin at the John Ball Zoo is doing well after undergoing endoscopy to recover a penny that the bird had accidentally swallowed.

Veterinarian Ryan Colburn said the team was performing their annual physicals on the zoo’s penguins when they found the coin. He suspects that the penguins mistook the coin for a silver piece of fish, which was a normal part of their diet.

“When we do routine checks for our penguins, we often use metal detectors to screen them, just to make sure they haven’t swallowed anything,” Colburn told News 8. “And interestingly, we got a beep when we were looking at Pichu. So, that prompted us to take X-rays and we recognized that he had swallowed a coin.”

Dr. Alex McFarland performed an endoscopy and was able to retrieve the coin.

“In this case, we were able to find the coin and remove it very quickly. The actual process with the camera was only five to 10 minutes,” Colburn said.

John Ball Zoo Team Regularly inspects animal habitats to ensure that animals are not threatened by outside objects, especially those in open-air habitats such as the penguins inside the Van Andel Living Shore Aquarium. Still, accidents happen.

“It’s not the first time. Interestingly, when I was a pre-veterinary student I actually came and retrieved a coin to assist the vet at that time,” he said. “However, it was a long time ago, and this is the only other one we know of.”

While visitors get well acquainted with the exhibits, the John Ball Zoo has many facilities for keeping animals behind the scenes, especially those with additional medical needs. Thankfully, Pichu had no problems recovering and was able to join his fellow penguins in the main habitat later that day.

“We have a space in our animal hospital that if for some reason he needs a period of recuperation, we can use the space there,” Colburn said. “And we also have space behind the scenes at the aquarium so that if we need a bird to take a break from the rest of the group for whatever reason, we can do that.”

role of a caretaker

Colburn has always felt a connection to animals and even the John Ball Zoo. The West Michigan native attended Grand Rapids Public’s sixth grade “Zoo School” program and knew he wanted to be a veterinarian even as a young child.

John Ball Zoo veterinarian Ryan Colburn (Matt Jaworski/Wood TV8)

“I really decided I wanted to be a vet. A lot of people do. So, as a kid in fourth grade, I already had my sights set on that. … But I decided that I really wanted to be involved in the conservation and care of different species,” Colburn said. “I started working with dogs and cats in an emergency, and I was really excited to come to the zoo when this position became available.”

And while it’s a dream job, it also comes with a lot of work. Colburn, McFarland and their team care for more than 2,000 animals throughout the year.

Things have slowed down at the zoo now that it’s closed for the winter, but work is steady for the vet team.

“The most common thing that happens at the zoo is routine exams. Every animal here is scheduled either every year or every other year, where we’re exhibiting them, doing blood work, making sure that Everything looks fine and we can (do them more often) as they get older or as things go wrong.

While checkups take up most of their time, Colburn and McFarland are always on call in case of emergencies.

“With over 2,000 animals, it could happen at any time,” he said.