St. Luke's incubator is getting a new use at Zoo Boise

Posted at 5:15 PM, Aug 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-20 19:15:47-04

Medical technology that once kept premature human babies healthy is now helping zoo animals continue the circle of life. It's just the start to an unusual collaboration between St. Luke's and Zoo Boise. 

"I wasn't sure if I had anything, but I told her I would look," said supply chain program manager Laurie Martin.

And St. Luke's did have something, an incubator they could no longer use on human patients, but would work perfectly for animals. 

"We might put a sick animal in here just because sick animals don't thermo-regulate very well, we might use it to incubate eggs," said Zoo Boise veterinarian Dr. Holly Holman. 

Zoo Boise plans to incubate eggs from penguins, birds, and even a few reptiles when needed. 

While snakes like the Rosy Boa won't need to use the incubator, other snakes like the Green Tree Python will use the incubator for their eggs. 

The most common use for the incubator will be for the Penguins during their breeding season. Sometimes penguins and other birds can't regulate their eggs temperatures well enough on their own, so they need a little help. 

"if you have birds that aren't particularly good parents or maybe 1st-time parents, it's like one in safe keeping that you can control everything," said Holman. 

The hospital also donated scales and other monitoring devices that will be adapted for the animals' needs. 

 "We're learning more and more that we can use some of the technology that was developed in human medicine for our needs as well," said Holman. 

The penguins even gave the hospital a special thank you gift of their own, a picture painted with their feet. The humans involved are more happy to keep helping these exotic patients. 

 "The incubator is something we use to support our smallest patients who are one day going to grow up and see these animals so now it gets to help those animals," said Martin.