The group of seven got into a fight yesterday and poor Negra sustained a significant laceration on her back side that required stitches. The staff got her isolated and Dr. Erin began mobilizing for the procedure. We are grateful to have been joined by Jim Repsher, PA-C, from Kittitas Valley Hospital who, with his background in surgery and emergency medicine, was able to tend to her wound while Dr. Erin, Sofia, and other staff gave Negra a full workup.
Negra handled the procedure well and got an ultrasound of her heart, x-rays, blood work, and a dental exam while receiving her stitches.
Diana ensured that Negra’s IV remained in place while Negra was repositioned for various diagnostics.
Sofia examined Negra’s teeth and gums.
Identification tattoos on each of Negra’s thighs serve as a stark reminder of her decades spent in various laboratories.
Negra’s caregivers often have to hold her arms to ensure that the various cuffs and catheters stay in place. These moments bring us some comfort, even if Negra is unaware of our presence.
Getting sutures to remain in place, especially in fragile tissue, can be a challenge with chimpanzees, who are prone to pick at them and pull them out. For this reason, we often employ distraction techniques so that they will direct their attention elsewhere while they recover. In some cases, we place shallow “distraction sutures” in areas away from the injury. Here, Sofia paints Negra’s fingernails so that she will have something else to pick at while she recovers. It’s a tip we learned from colleagues at another sanctuary and it certainly can’t hurt to try.
Before long Negra was back in the recovery room in a pile of blankets and stuffed animals, with her team of caregivers monitoring her closely.
By morning she was alert and ready for some juice.
She made a nest next to the caging and gave kisses through the mesh before eventually falling back to sleep.
That is, until Annie started spitting water on her to get her attention and make sure she was OK! Once Negra sat up, Annie was satisfied and let Negra go back to bed.
We’re pretty confident that Negra will have an uneventful recovery – after all, she lives her whole life on restricted activity! But she will remain isolated, with her caregivers watching over her and her chimp family next door, until Dr. Erin is confident in her healing.
The life of a chimp vet is never dull. For the last month, the staff have been taking turns doing overnight duty, sleeping on a cot in the chimp house foyer to monitor the newly integrated group of nine and respond in the event of a serious conflict. Friday night was Dr. Erin’s night, and I’m sure she was looking forward to a day of rest following her shift. The chimps had other plans, though. As always, we are grateful to have Dr. Erin caring for these sixteen chimps and four cattle and we hope she can get some rest today.
If you’d like to contribute towards the veterinary care of Negra and her friends, we
have had (thanks to the folks who purchased these so quickly!) a dental scaler and a polisher on our Amazon wish list that would be a huge help the next time one of the chimps finds themselves in the clinic.