The analysis of blood samples reveals several valuable indicators of general health, including electrolytes, enzymes, hormones, and cell counts. Chemistry values obtained from each blood sample are compared to known normal levels of that animal or species and the general health of the animal can then be assessed. In a voluntary blood draw procedure, Hugh or Buffett is given a specific hand signal that cues the animal to roll into a ventral-up (belly-up) position while floating at the surface of the tank and extend his pectoral flipper to the trainer. The manatee holds this position while the flipper is sterilized with alcohol and betadine, a needle is inserted by the veterinarian into the brachial venous plexus located between the radius and the ulna, and several small vials of blood are collected. Hugh and Buffett are the first two manatees to ever have given blood using this voluntary procedure.
Medial Blood Draw
Lateral Blood Draw