Thursday, February 23, 2006

Bill the Chimp passes health exam for now

Zoo officials said Bill the chimpanzee, the oldest resident at Sequoia Park Zoo, is recovering well after a undergoing a complete physical and battery of tests at the zoo on Wednesday.

“We began anesthetization at 9:30 a.m.,” said Gretchen Ziegler, curator and supervisor of the zoo. “We were able to put him back in his night house … at about 1:30 p.m.”

One of the veterinarians who worked during the almost four-hour exam stayed with Bill until approximately 2:30 p.m. when he started to wake up from the anesthesia.

Bill, 59, has not undergone an examination of this kind in almost 10 years. Zoo staff collaborated with the Chimpanzee Species Survival Plan, a national chimpanzee management group, to assemble a team from the University of California, Davis, with expertise in great ape veterinary medicine to lead the procedure. The team arrived Tuesday.

The team included three specialists from UC Davis, including one cardiologist with a portable cardio-sonogram, three local veterinarians, including Sarah Green, who operates the Veterinary House Calls mobile hospital as well as the veterinarians they contract with, Jeff Kelley-Day from Myrtle Avenue Veterinary Clinic and Richard Brown from Humboldt State University.

“(There were) about 10 of us, and only two were zoo staff; the rest were vets and vet techs,” Ziegler said.

Most of the exam was done in the bear night house and included X-rays, blood tests, tissue cultures, ultrasound imaging and an electrocardiogram.

“We’ll get some results in a week or so, and some will take a couple months,” she said. “In general they were amazed at how well he looked; they’re having a hard time believing he is as old as he is.”

Story here.

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