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Vet monitors lion's heart rate using Apple watch, video goes viral

Dr. Chloe Buiting, a wildlife veterinarian, has showcased a groundbreaking use of the Apple Watch to monitor the heart rates of sedated lions and elephants in the wild.

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Vet monitors lion's heart rate using Apple watch, video goes viral
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The Apple Watch, renowned for its cutting-edge health monitoring features, has now found a surprising new application beyond human use. Recently, a fascinating example of this technology emerged from the wilds of Australia. Dr. Chloe Buiting, a wildlife veterinarian, showcased a unique use of the Apple Watch for tracking the heart rate of lions in a viral Instagram post.

In the captivating video, a sedated lion lies still with an Apple Watch placed on its tongue, capturing the animal’s vital signs. The watch’s screen displays real-time health metrics, highlighting the innovative crossover of consumer technology into wildlife conservation.

"I don’t know what’s more impressive... the snore, or the discovery that the @apple Watch can measure a lion’s heart rate if you strap it to the tongue (even if it is one of the less conventional 'off-label' uses for the device). Either way, it’s a true 'technology meets conservation' story," Dr. Chloe wrote in her caption. She explained how she and her colleagues, Dr. Fabiola Quesada and Dr. Brendan Tindall, stumbled upon this novel use of the Apple Watch while grappling with the challenges of monitoring anesthesia in the field. Many existing devices are tailored for smaller animals, making it difficult to obtain accurate readings from larger wildlife.

Hailing the use of the Apple Watch as a “game-changer,” Dr. Chloe revealed that the device is effective not only on lions but also on elephants, when taped to their ears.

“So, when my colleague @fabiola_wildspirit and Dr. Brendan Tindall found this trick recently, it was a game changer! It even works on elephants (when taped to their ears which is a sight in itself) and is the ultimate 'work smarter, not harder' in my book. It was a pleasure to be in the field with Dr. Fabiola this month – the first of many times I hope,” she shared.

Dr. Chloe expressed her admiration for technological advancements and their transformative impact on conservation efforts. She highlighted several key innovations, including the unexpected use of the Apple Watch, real-time GPS tracking collars for endangered species, and “horn pods” for rhinoceros.

“It’s nothing short of incredible to see all the advances that have been made – all of which are just little reminders of the incredible potential technology holds, and all of the hope that remains for some of our most critically endangered animals,” she added.

The post quickly went viral, amassing over 5.1 million views and sparking widespread interest in this unconventional application of the Apple Watch.

The Apple Watch measures heart rate using photoplethysmography, a technique that exploits the body’s natural light absorption properties. By emitting green light on the skin and using light-sensitive photodiodes, the watch detects changes in light absorption, rapidly flashing LEDs to capture these variations and calculate the heart rate.

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