Injured Owl Gets Acupuncture To Help With Bad Back
Acupuncture and owls are not typically things that go together, but an acupuncturist in Spain is trying to help a little owl in rehab recover from a bad back. The bird, less than a foot long, crashed into a stovepipe near Madrid about two months ago. He's received 10 weekly acupuncture treatments, and appears to be doing better.
To hear veterinary acupuncturist Edurne Cornejo tell it, traditional medicine is helping the owl once again find his wings. "When he first came, he couldn't stand up," she told AFP. The owl will spend a few more months recuperating at Brinzal, a rehabilitation center and wildlife charity in Madrid, before he is returned to the wild. "He started taking little steps. Now he is flying again."
An owl in Arkansas gets acupuncture. (Screenshot via Huffington Post Video)
Using acupuncture to help animals is a relatively new field of veterinary medicine. In January, the American Veterinary Medical Association voted to admit the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture as a partner organization. Animal acupuncture has been practiced in the U.S. since the 1970s, the AVMA said, and began picking up steam in the 1990s.
As far as acupuncture's actual efficacy goes, the jury is still out. A summary of the medical literature in humans determined that "acupuncture is effective for some but not all types of pain." In domestic animals, too, results are unclear, with sparse evidence to recommend for or against the procedure. (But that hasn't stopped animals, like elephants in Maine, from receiving it.)
For this owl, the occasional pokes with small needles don't seem to be hurting. And as Cornejo noted, "It does not cause side-effects" like pharmaceuticals. But the few months of rest, plus a steady supply of fresh prey for the tiny predator, is probably helping out, too.