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NEW: Tufts Helps Franklin Park Zoo Perform Procedure on a Gorilla

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

 

Doctors performing a physical on Kitombe, a western lowland gorilla, at the Franklin Park Zoo today.

The Franklin Park Zoo has taken tricky animal checkups and made them routine with advanced training that has allowed vets to perform a variety of tests on large animals, including gorillas.

 Kitombe, a western lowland gorilla, was the most recent animal treated to a series of tests. Referred to affectionately as “Kit,” the giant ape underwent a routine physical that involved blood work and a cardiac exam.

Unfortunately, gorillas are not generally cooperative when it comes to giving blood, so veterinarians at the Franklin Park Zoo went through the tricky process of putting Kit under.

“Everything went very smoothly with this examination and Kit appears to be in good health,” Dr. Eric Baitchman said. “We have a tremendous team and this was a well-coordinated examination involving several different departments at the zoo, as well as specialists that we asked to assist us. This level of teamwork plays an important role in ensuring that we have a safe and smooth procedure for the animals and the staff.”

The exam lasted around two hours, with blood work and cardiac results due back in the next few weeks. Only 30 minutes after the exam’s completion, Kit was awake and walking around. Dr. Emily McCobb, a Clinical Assistant Professor specializing in Anesthesia at Tufts University, and Dr. Nancy Laste, Head of Cardiology at Angell Animal Medical Center, assisted in the examination.

Zookeepers were able to administer the anesthesia to Kit by hand injection, which reduces stress on the animal and the staff. This is just one of the many skills learned at the many training programs available at both the Franklin Park Zoo, as well as the Stone Zoo. Training programs teach zookeepers a variety of techniques for use on gorillas, giraffes, otters, parrots, jaguars, and others.

Through these established training programs, zookeepers and veterinarians are able to regularly listen to gorillas’ heartbeats, as well as perform routine checks on their eyes, ears, teeth, feet and hands.

 

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