Brookfield Zoo is Now Home to the Largest and Most Advanced CT Scanner Within a Zoo Setting


The Chicago Zoological Society (CZS), which manages Brookfield Zoo, is now home to the world’s most advanced medical diagnostic imaging suite with the addition of a CT scanner and C-arm fluoroscopy unit. Donated by AMITA Health Adventist Medical Centers, Hinsdale and La Grange, the equipment further enhances the already world-class Dr. Aurelio M. Caccomo Imaging Suite located at the zoo’s Animal Hospital.


The large-bore 16 slice CT scanner, donated by AMITA Health La Grange, represents a major advancement in technology and can accommodate much larger patients. The equipment will play a major role in supporting the Society’s commitment to providing the highest caliber of medical care to more than 3,000 animals at Brookfield Zoo and under its conservation programs. The scanner can produce high-resolution images of the inside of an animal patient’s body 16 times faster than the Society’s older CT scanner. The faster speed drastically decreases the amount of time an animal needs to remain under anesthesia, allowing CT scans to become part of the standard care provided during routine preventive health checkups.

The resolution provided by the new CT scanner is a major advancement in diagnostic abilities, as the staff are able to characterize normal anatomy and disease states on a much finer scale. Veterinarians will be able to identify specific health problems on a much wider range of species than was previously possible, as the CT unit can accommodate animals up to 660 pounds, such as an adult gorilla, tiger, or dolphin.


The fluoroscopy unit, donated by AMITA Health Hinsdale, is a new diagnostic tool for the zoo, providing veterinarians with a continuous X-ray beam to study moving body structures in real time. The unit allows veterinarians to image animals during a procedure in real time, such as checking alignment of bone fragments when surgically repairing a fracture, evaluating cardiac blood flow during an angiogram, and administering an epidural injection.

"We are so thankful to Community Memorial Foundation for their assistance in connecting us to AMITA Health. The addition of the CT scanner and fluoroscopy unit represents a tremendous advancement in our diagnostic capabilities," said Michael Adkesson, DVM, DACZM, vice president of clinical medicine for CZS. “They allow us to perform veterinary medicine at the highest caliber to ensure the health and well-being of the animals here at Brookfield Zoo. “With these additions to our imaging suite, we have the ability to conduct the most advanced procedures with accuracy and ease to prevent and treat disease."

"We were thrilled to be able to provide the necessary equipment that will enable the veterinary professionals to maintain the health and well-being of all of the animals at Brookfield Zoo," said Bonny Chen, MD, vice president/chief medical officer for AMITA Health Adventist Medical Centers, Hinsdale and La Grange.

Animals at the zoo receive frequent health checks, including examinations and testing, as well as close monitoring as part of the zoo's preventive medicine program. Routine medical imaging provides a baseline for comparison for an animal in the event of an illness.


"Many of the species here are rare, meaning the veterinary data available for reference are limited,” said Adkesson. "Much of what we know about the health of many endangered species is based on the amazing health care they receive in professional care. As a result of our advanced medical imaging suite, we can build a more comprehensive database of normal medical images that will be a global resource for zoo and wildlife medicine. The medical information we gain on the health of these animals every day plays a direct role in conservation of wildlife.”

Brookfield Zoo is one of two zoos in North America to have a CT scanner on site and is a globally recognized leader in the medical imaging of nondomestic animals. The Veterinary Services Department is part of the Chicago Zoological Society’s Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare (CSACW), a cooperative team of animal care professionals dedicated to providing the best animal care and inspiring conservation leadership by connecting people with wildlife and nature.

Posted: 7/1/2016 11:20:14 AM by Bryan Todd Oakley

CZS & Brookfield Zoo

Since the opening of Brookfield Zoo in 1934, the Chicago Zoological Society has had an international reputation for taking a cutting-edge role in animal care and conservation of the natural world. Learn more about the animals, people, and research that make up CZS here at our blog.


Subscribe to our Blogs!