Teddy bears in need of a tune up are mended at the Nashville Zoo

Teddy Bear Cln
Posted at 4:38 PM, Mar 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-07 08:33:25-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — There was a flurry of activity Saturday inside the Nashville Zoo's Veterinary Center. "I fixed a lot of the fur babies today," said Dr. Heather Schwartz, Director of Veterinary Services at the Nashville Zoo.

Concerned owners were watching as the ones they love go under the knife... only to be stuffed back up with love. "Oh I see it, it’s a paw injury. That happens a lot, I can fix that," said Dr. Schwartz.

On normal days, the operating space is used for an ark worth of Zoo animals in need of medical care. This weekend, it's stuffed with plush. "I’ve sutured up everything from lions to bears to flamingos, oh a Tigger, and Donald," said Schwartz.

Dr. Schwartz plays the role of surgeon for both the real animals and their stuffed companions. "It’s a place where they can come and actually get them doctored and repaired because they fall apart too or have injuries. I love the stories of why they’re injured are super great. I had a monkey that danced too much," she said.

Thankfully, not all of the patients come in with critical injuries. Three year old Phinn Slowey's T-Rex was in need of a little shine service. "His teeth are not clean. His teeth are not clean," Slowey told a nurse.

Others fit in a quick physical — where the stuffed animals could get bandaged from an injury, or even a vaccination from cooties. While the cuteness overload is the main draw, the real purpose of this clinic was educational. "We saw it when it was constructed but this is our first time in it," said Shelby Slowey, Phinn's mother.

It was a rare chance for parents and kids to actually get inside the veterinarian center and see how it works. "I just really like that we can inspire them to look at careers and see all the jobs that are offered in zoos and with animals and hopefully inspire them to care about animals in the future," said Dr. Schwartz.

If the real animals get just a fraction of the love shown in this operating room, you can be sure, they're in good hands.

The Teddy Bear Clinic continues Sunday March 6th at the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere. Pre-registration is required and the cost is $5. For more information, click here.