High-tech laser therapy now used to treat animals at Paignton Zoo

High-tech laser therapy is now being used at Paignton Zoo to treat animals - and is already showing promising results.

The therapy involves using specific wavelengths of light in a process called photobiomodulation.

It can be used to accelerate tissue repair, which results in faster wound healing, reduced inflammation and a reduction in pain.

This means a speedier recovery for conditions such as arthritis, wounds, dental disease, trauma bacterial infections and muscle injuries.

What animals can have this treatment?

Many animals at the Paignton Zoo are having this treatment - from Rothschild’s giraffe Otilie who is being treated for a head wound, to a bongo with muscle damage.

The veterinary team is also using the therapy after surgical procedures to increase the speed of wound healing - and it is already proving to reduce recovery time.

The team said it is "encouraging" to see these results as they are in the early stages of trialling the technology.

Ghislaine Sayers, head of animal health services at Paignton Zoo, said: “We believe that this new laser will reduce the need for invasive treatments that often involve anaesthetising our animals.

"Large animals, like rhinos, can be especially troublesome to treat due to their size. So this exciting progression means we can treat animals more easily and effectively and reduce the stress levels of those undergoing treatment.”

She added: “This laser equipment required a significant initial investment, but we are delighted with these early results and will continue to monitor the progress of treatments.”

What benefit will it have on the animals?

Combating antibiotic-resistance by directly targeting infected cells without the need for antibiotics

Reducing the amount of painkillers used and thus avoiding some of their side effects

Healing wounds more quickly

Reducing the number of anaesthetics an animal may require for changing dressings.

What equipment is used?

The zoo is using Class 4 laser for the treatment.

Class 4 lasers are used across multiple forms of medicine - from domestic veterinary and equine care, to the treatment of muscular injuries in sports.

Some athletes have their own laser technology, which they use to speed up muscle repair after sporting events. But if used incorrectly, the laser can burn skin and can cause damage to eyes from a close range.