Special cattle in Virginia Zoo is 'Tilting Heads'

Watusi sick at the Virginia Zoo, we have the update on 13News Now

NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- An animal at the Virginia Zoo is causing heads to tilt.

Diallo, one of the 5-year-old Watusi cattle, has a slight tilt to his head from overproduction of mucus in one horn.

Inside all Watusi horns there are special cells that help with heat exchange and air filtration. The cells produce mucus, and in Diallo's case his horn is overproducing mucus causing his head to tilt.

It is still unknown what causes the mucus to overproduce.

“We have been monitoring Diallo for the past couple of months as this condition has developed,” said Dr. Colleen Clabbers, the Virginia Zoo veterinarian. “His Keepers have been giving him guaifenesin daily, also known as Mucinex®, to help with the mucus."

The Veterinarian and Animal Care Staff have contacted other institutions across the country that have experienced this same issue with their Watusi cattle. 

Many treatment options have been attempted including drilling a small hole in the affected horn to drain/ or suction the mucus out. 

The attempts were unsuccessful due to the thick mucus and a maze of tissue inside the horn.  It's nearly impossible to remove the mucus.

Other attempts to add weight to the other unaffected horn to help counteract the weight from the mucus has been tried.

“The weights were a bit of a trial and error process.” Dr. Clabbers said. “Watusi occasionally rub their horns on different objects, so keeping the weights in place was a challenge. It’s just a matter of finding what Diallo is comfortable with and what helps him the most.”

Unfortunately, Diallo removed the weight pretty quickly, and Veterinarians are reluctant to reapply the weight because it could potentially be damaging to his horn.

Visitors will notice a change in appearance to Diallo, but the Virginia Zoo assures that he is not in pain, and that nothing will interfere with his daily activities. 

For more information click HERE

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