Singapore, 21 June 2012 – Slightly more than a month ago on 12 May, the veterinarian team at Jurong Bird Park created nostrils for a blue-headed pionus parrot. As the case is extremely rare, this is the first time such a surgical procedure has been performed at the Bird Park.

The parrot was part of the Jungle Jewels exhibit. She had a chronic nasal infection which healed, but she somehow recovered in an odd fashion, and there was tissue growth in the nostrils, which blocked it and prevented her from breathing properly. As a result, she was breathing through her beak when she flew. Her beak is also deformed due to corrosion from the nasal infections’ toxins and enzymes.

When the case was brought to the attention of the veterinarians at the Park, research and check ups were conducted over a period of time before a course of treatment was decided on. The veterinarians decided to re-create nostrils for the parrot. During the 1.5 hour surgery, tissue which grew in the nostrils had to be removed to create a canal for proper breathing. Incisions were made at the top of the nose for a soft plastic tube to be inserted into the nostrils and out, under the beak and eventually securing the tube at the back of the parrot’s head with a valve.

“We had to leave the plastic tube in place for 4-6 weeks to prevent secondary healing. Having the tube sent a signal to the body to not repair the empty space left after the removal of tissue, so that tissue does not grow back at the vacant area. That eventually became the nostrils. The parrot recovered well from anesthesia, and she was active and strong as well, which bode well for her prognosis,” said Dr Melodiya Magno, Veterinarian, Jurong Bird Park.

After the surgery, she was tube-fed with parrot formula and given daily injections to relieve her pain. Additionally, a mixture of saline and antibiotics was injected into the valve daily to treat the sinuses and the surgical site.

Today, the parrot has recovered, and the veterinarians will remove the tube, conduct a physical check, take an x-ray and extract blood for testing, to ensure that she is completely well before sending her to the Breeding and Research Centre to be a part of the breeding programme.

Inserting a tube through a metal trocar to create new nostrils, May 12
Original nostrils which are blocked, and the new openings with the tube in place above the original nostrils, May 12
Removal of tissue from original blocked nostrils, Jun 09
After removal of tissue which
were blocking the original nostrils, the tube which was inserted through the new nostrils could connect the upper respiratory
tract to the choanal slit to
promote proper drainage of sinus secretions and normal breathing, Jun 09
Suturing the new nostrils after the tube was removed, Jun 21
Blue-headed pionus parrot with functioning original nostrils, Jun 21