W hen we purchased a new portable x-ray system in 2013, we knew the resulting images would aid in diagnoses and medical assessments of our more than 500 animals. What we couldn’t anticipate is that the images would be intriguing beyond their medical use, and even…beautiful.

As a result, we’ve put up an exhibit of 28 radiographs (x-rays) taken of the Zoo’s animal residents. “Animals… Inside Out” is on view at the Volentine Family Gallery in the Discovery Pavilion through June 22, 2015.

Most of the works are 11 inches by 14 inches or 8 inches by 10 inches, printed on Chromira paper, and mounted on 3/8 inch black gator foam. The x-rays were taken primarily in 2014, some during routine annual exams, and others to aid in diagnoses or treatment of ailments.

“Animals… Inside Out” includes a view of the forefoot of African lion Gingerbread, the head and neck of a Chilean flamingo, the body of a three-banded armadillo, a skull of giant anteater Ridley, the body of a Western chuckwalla, a wing of an endangered California condor, and the foot of an American brown pelican, among others.

The image showing the lungs of Chief, the Zoo’s Burmese python, is one of 10 separate x-rays needed to radiograph his 9-foot long body. The wee body of milky tree frog shows a fractured right femur (leg), and the kidney stones of an Asian small-clawed otter look like tiny cauliflowers. Ling, the Zoo’s Chinese alligator, had lesions on the bottom of her foot, but the x-ray reveals there are no issues with her foot bones.

The x-rays were taken primarily in 2014, some during routine annual exams, and others to aid in diagnoses or treatment of ailments.

The body of rosy boa appears to be surrounded by smoke – actually the sack used to restrain the snake to avoid using anesthesia. An oxygen mask is revealed on a young golden lion tamarin born in July 2014. An image of the foot of a snow leopard shows its particularly furry details.

The rosy boa image (above, center) is one of my favorites, as it shows the delicate inner structure of an animal that often inspires a ‘yuck’ reaction in people. I think snakes are so cool, and hope that by seeing its bones, our guests might see their beauty the way I do!

The endotracheal (breathing) tube, used to assist with an animal’s breathing while it is anesthetized, is visible in an image of one of the Zoo’s more recent residents, a laughing Kookaburra (above, left). It was taken during the bird’s quarantine exam, which is standard procedure for every new resident, in addition to the annual medical exams performed for each of the Zoo’s more than 500 animals.

This exhibit gives our guests a unique opportunity to view what is usually only seen by veterinary staff, and become inspired in a new way about the beauty of wild animals. It’s not too often you get to see an animals’ insides!

The images were taken by the super-amazing Vet Rocket X1 portable digital radiograph system, with a Canon wireless Digital Radiograph detector, purchased by the Zoo with funds donated by the Henry Bull, Mericos, and Hind foundations, and Citrix Online. Hope to see you at the show!

The images in “Animals… Inside Out” are for sale and prices range from $60 to $135, with all proceeds benefitting the Zoo. This exhibit is part of an ongoing a series of nature-themed exhibits displayed in the Gallery throughout the year, and is free to view with Zoo admission.

Wendy Campbell

About Wendy Campbell

Wendy Campbell works on special marketing projects at the Santa Barbara Zoo.

500 Ninos Drive, Santa Barbara, CA 93103