Koos, our African Grey, entertains visitors to HESC with his repertoire of whistles and proud vocabulary. Anyone who has been to the centre will tell you much he seems to enjoy chatting to those who are waiting for the tour of the centre to start.
Koosâ€™ corner stand is on the patio, close to the Deli@cheetah Centre and The Curio Shop, both of which overlook two cheetah enclosures. Gretha was putting Koos away for the night, as he doesn’t sleep out on the patio due to the possible danger posed by snakes and other animals, when she felt a swelling near his tail feathers.
We were worried about Koos, and the following morning one of our curators, Licia, took him to Provet, where Dr Rogers sedated him in order to conduct a thorough examination. â€¨However, Dr Rogers was not able to find anything wrong, and said that the feather and oil follicle could just be thickened or clogged.
As HESC had not been supplied with the same bird mix that we usually offer Koos, a new mix was given in the preceding two weeks, which could be the cause of the follicular hyperkeratosis. Dr Rogers opened the follicle and cleaned it, and said there was nothing to worry about.
Interesting facts about the African Grey
The skin is made up of epithelial cells and consists of three layersâ€”the epidermis (outer layer), the dermis (middle layer), and the subcutaneous layer (inner layer). The skin flexes with body movement and flight, provides a sensory surface, protects the body from water loss and invasion of microbes.
The skin’s job is to â€¨protect the body from the many foreign substances that exist in its environment. Under adverse conditions it often reacts with dryness, redness, itching, cracking, thickening and scaling or flaking. The skin excretes some toxins and poisons that are present in the body, as do the metabolic processes of the lungs, kidneys, liver, and large intestine. The skin and feathers, however, noticeably reflect what is going on in the internal environment of the body.
Feathers are epidermal structures that perform a number of tasks including, but not limited to, protecting a bird’s body from physical damage, providing aerodynamic power for flight, and act as a barrier for keeping water from the skin. Feathers insulate a bird’s body against temperature change and maintain proper warmth for their offspring.
Feathers are primarily made up of keratin; a fibrous protein substance. Beaks, nails, and leg scales are also made-up of keratin. Keratin is the main structural component of feathers. The feathers are nourished during growth through the blood supply at the base of the quill, which develop inside of the skin follicle. Mature feathers are very strong and durable, but are not alive. As a result, feathers cannot be repaired and damaged feathers are replaced naturally at the next molting period.