A while back, Jamie developed an abscess on her swelling that would not resolve. Thanks to our positive reinforcement training program, Jamie was letting Diana flush the wound twice a day with an antibiotic solution, but unfortunately it still wasn’t healing. So today, with the help of our wonderful vet, Dr. Erin Zamzow, and the long-distance support of board member Dr. Mensching, we decided to anesthetize Jamie to get a better look.
To say that Jamie was cooperative would be an understatement – it’s more like she’s a part of the veterinary team. We always have to isolate chimpanzees prior to anesthesia so that we can make sure they have an empty stomach and most chimpanzees quickly figure out what’s in store for them. As you can imagine, that can be quite stressful and scary. But Jamie spent the entire morning playing with her caregivers, seemingly without a care in the world. When the time came to induce anesthesia, she willingly presented her arm to Diana for injection.
Along with Dr. Zamzow, we were so grateful to have help today from Dr. Fuller of Ellensburg Animal Hospital, who brought a digital x-ray machine so that we could determine the extent of the wound and ensure there wasn’t a foreign body inside.
All in all it was good news: the injury wasn’t as extensive as we feared, and the x-rays all looked good. Dr. Zamzow was able to sterilize the wound and Diana will continue with the cooperative treatments until Jamie is fully healed. Right now, Jamie is enjoying some quiet time by herself in a room filled with blankets, with waiters on hand to give her sips of Gatorade whenever she desires.
When we are done with procedures, we position the chimps in a way that protects their airway as they recover, and to facilitate this we lay them on a couple of scarves with the ends passed through the caging so that we can gently roll them back into position if they slump over the wrong way. As soon as Jamie was up and about, she put a scarf right back to use as a fashion accessory. You can tell she’s feeling better already.
Carla René says
I know this is a weird quesdtion, but how traumatic is it for YOU, the caregivers, to anesthetise them, knowing their past struggle with constantly being knocked down? I doubt I could get through it without a few tears the first few times. Bless her heart, she certainly trusts you now–a testament to you both. <3
Hi Carla – That’s not a weird question at all. The answer totally depends on the situation.
First, it depends on whether the chimpanzee presents for injection or not. If they present, like Jamie did, then there’s not a terrible amount of stress for either the chimp or the caregiver during the induction process. But in Burrito’s case earlier this summer, he did present but pulled away before the injection was complete. And after that he wouldn’t present anymore. So he had to be darted, and that is not much fun for anyone. Luckily we can always give them oral valium first, so it takes the edge of off things.
Second, it depends on the drug being used. In Jamie’s case, we were able to use a drug cocktail containing medetomidine because her heart is healthy. Medetomidine can be highly concentrated and it is well tolerated and doesn’t sting upon injection. It can even be administered orally through the cheeks and gums. For Burrito, we had to use the safer, more traditional anesthetics because of his heart, so it was harder to get the injection in him. And the more traditional drugs can make for a more difficult recovery.
We try to balance the desire for a less stressful knock down with the need for safety during anesthesia, and the decisions on what drug to use and how to administer them are made on a case by case basis. But whatever we decide, we always know that we are doing it for them and for them only, so we just do what we have to do and try not to linger on the stresses of the moment. Chimpanzees are incredibly resilient, so these procedures haven’t affected our relationships with them at all yet.
Carla René says
Thanks, J.B. I appreciate your time and reply.
One day, number two on the ‘ole bucket list will be to be in a position so I can just sit outside the fence and stare into Burrito’s eyes. For hours without a word. I’ve never even seen a chimp, gorilla or bobobo in a Zoo. The day I do I will cry gobs of tears…. <3
Kathy B says
Good for Jamie, you guys are amazing !!! Thank you for all that you do for our friends the chimps.
Amy M says
JB — I keep telling you — send Jamie to veterinary school and she will HEAD the team! With her in charge you’ll never have to anesthetize anyone again! She’ll take care of everything! 😉
Maybe Jamie welcomed a break from the pressures of being the boss.
I have been so worried about Jamie and afraid to ask how she was doing for fear of a negative answer! I should have known that Jamie would be the Boss of her own health. Very happy to hear she is recovering and happier still to learn that the abscess was nothing major. You must be so very relieved to have the confirmation that Jamie and Burrito have trust in you to care for them. They now know there is someone offering them loving care when the scary part is over. They must understand the difference between your treatments and procedures as compared to the horrors of their past. Amazing how they open up their hearts and minds to trust again.
As Jamie recuperates, will it be difficult for her sit and even thought you will be flushing the area, do you worry about keeping the area free from infection (not like you can cover with a bandage!). And is this the first time you had to anesthetize Jamie at the sanctuary?
Those Positive Reinforcement lessons have surely come in handy this year haven’t they!? Astounding. Thank you for all you do and for seeing to it that Jamie looked spiffy and stylish for her photo op! Get well soon dear Jamie! XOXOX
Dr. Zamzow’s treatment wasn’t too invasive, so it won’t affect Jamie at all – in fact, it may make her feel more comfortable to get things draining better. There shouldn’t be much risk of additional infection because we will be flushing the wound with antiseptic each day until it fully heals.
We did have to briefly anesthetize Jamie once before, which is why we were confident that she would accept the injection. She’s a smart cookie. Even without training, she knows that it’s better to cooperate when it comes to anesthesia.
Thank you for taking such wonderful care of these special beings! Have a speedy recovery sweet Jamie. Sending hugs to you!
So glad to hear everything went well. What a trooper Jaime is!!!
no surprise that Jamie was part of the team. She amazes me. So glad that CSNW has the onsite facilities. Get well, soon, Boss Lady!
How did the others react to her separation?
We didn’t have much trouble getting them separated, but once the other chimps realized what was going on they were concerned and many of them sat by the windows to watch as much as they could. When Jamie was recovering from anesthesia, she started to vocalize, and some of the chimps – especially Annie – became very concerned. But it wasn’t more than another hour or two before the others could come in the building and see that she was OK, and then another hour later they were allowed to greet her through the caging. Now they’re all back together and it’s like nothing ever happened!
Stephanie Hodges says
she had a bad tooth? Not sure what I missed but thank you for the informative posts. Go Jamie!
Carla René says
Yeah, missed that, too. Think he accidentally dropped a word.
BTW, can anyone tell me why we’re forced to subscribe to each separate post when we’re already subscribed to the blog? I’ve searched all over WordPress settings, and it must be on their WP end since I can’t change mine.
Sorry for the confusion – a “swelling” refers to a female chimpanzee’s external genitalia, due to the fact that the ano-genital region swells during estrus. We assume that Jamie was bitten near the top of her swelling…puncture wounds from teeth often cause abscesses.
Not sure about the WordPress question…we’ll have to look into it!
Carla René says
OH!! I had no idea and had never heard the term.
I love Jamie, I am being serious…. I firmly believe that Jamie had a positive relationship with a human when she was very young, someone who wore cowboy boots.
So relieved to know that Jamie is doing well after that exam. Thanks to all of you for taking such good care of these wonderful chimps.
I just love this blog so very much! It’s so informative, I learn so much! But it’s also entertaining, amusing,& most of all, endearing!!!!! Thank you so very much for allowing me a glimpse into the chimps lives!