Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Gorilla Echo and a New Arrival!

It was a media frenzy at the zoo today! Ngoma, a 400 lb 13 yr old male gorilla, was immobilized today for his annual exam, complete with echocardiogram. Like in humans, cardiac disease is the leading killer of male gorillas, so these screenings are particularly important. Human cardiologists from local Creighton University came in with their portable echo machine to do the study. The data is being compiled nationwide so that more can be learned about cardiac disease in gorillas, so -- hopefully -- more can be done to treat them if it is caught early.

Overall, everything went well. Ngoma did fine, and his heart appears healthy. Along with the echo and complete physical, he received his needed vaccinations, an eyelid tuberculosis test (standard test ~2 years for all primates), a dental exam and chest x-rays. All four of the local news station affiliates (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox) had camera teams here, and there was a photographer from the Omaha World Herald, the major area newspaper. And, yes, yours truly did make it on the news, if it was only in the background fiddling with the pulse oximeter and ECG leads!

After finishing with Ngoma, I accompanied one of the technicians to do a neonatal exam on a Dama calf that was born last night. Like all animal babies, he was absolutely adorable! Damas are a favorite of the zoo staff because -- unlike many other species of gazelle -- these creatures are easy to handle and not especially "flighty." This is particularly surprising, given how small and fragile they look. This little guy was very quiet and still during his exam, which would normally frighten you! Most healthy baby animals I have seen are far more lively than this, a reassuring sign to me that they are healthy. This guy was very subdued and even limp. However, apparently that is a normal thing for Dama calves. As part of his exam, this fella received antiserum for the most common causes of diarrhea in young ruminants such as E. Coli, rotavirus and corona virus. He was also implanted with a microchip, tattooed and given an eartag for identification. he is a pretty cute little calf!

And I'll end today with another video, also of a cute youngster. This is a video of a young Blue Monkey playing with another in his exhibit. He jumps around and wrestled like a normal young monkey would, but the amazing thing about this guy is that he has no right arm! He was injured awhile back, and it unfortunately required amputation of the entire limb at the shoulder. Don't tell him that, though. He doesn't appear to notice! Actually, he was moving about so freely that I didn't notice it at first either!

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