A couple weekends ago, all eleven of our chimpanzees received thorough physical examinations. Our veterinarian Dr. Dan Bowling was joined by Save the Chimps veterinarian Dr. Jocelyn Bezner to perform the check-ups. Also assisting was Dr. Woodrow Friend of Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital who provided his expertise and digital radiograph equipment. We were able to examine all eleven chimps in three days. We were very fortunate that Dr. Bezner shared her anesthesia administration technique where we were able to hide a small needle in a glove, so staff could quickly stick each chimp (which only felt like a bee sting). This prevented us from having to dart any of the chimps and made for a mostly stress-free experience for the entire group.

A chimpanzee physical is not so different from an annual exam for a human. We evaluate their overall health, collect blood and urine samples, look at their teeth and gums, examine their ears, listen to their hearts, etc. The males in the group get x-rays of their hearts, since male chimps in captivity are prone to heart disease. After a few minor health issues were addressed (some teeth did have to be pulled), the veterinarians gave the chimps a clean bill of health.

We are so grateful to Dr. Bezner from Save the Chimps for taking the time to assist our Dr. Bowling. We all learned so much and look forward to working with her in the future. We are also so thankful that Dr. Friend was able to provide services that were crucial in assessing the health of our chimpanzee group. He even assisted with Donald’s tooth removal, which turned out to be quite an endeavor. 

We take great pride in providing the highest quality care for our residents, which certainly includes their medical needs as well. These check-ups are essential in our evaluation of our residents’ overall health and lifetime care. We are also so thankful to all the volunteers who helped us during these three days so that the staff could focus on moving chimps, prepping knock down and wake up areas, assisting with medical procedures, and monitoring the chimps as they woke up from anesthesia.

As you can imagine, the cost of performing these physicals does add up quickly. The anesthesia medications, emergency medications to have on hand, and other medical supplies are certainly not inexpensive. While we were fortunate to have had many supplies donated, our budget is strained. If you would like to donate to help us recoup some of these costs, please consider earmarking a donation for medical care.

Executive Director April Truitt and the PRC Carestaff with Dr. Dan Bowling (left) & Dr. Jocelyn Bezner (center)

Dr. Dan Bowling, Dr. Jocelyn Bezner, and Dr. Woodrow Friend

Check out the full story in the Jessamine Journal.