Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Diabetic Monkey Trained To Take Her Medicine

diabetic monkeyAfter Knoxville Zoo keepers discovered that Shelley had Type II diabetes, they had to train the blue monkey to accept the injections she needed.

Keepers first tried oral medications to treat the disease caught in its early stages, but that didn't work. It was decided that the almost-18-year-old monkey would need daily insulin injections.

Keepers trained Shelley to move into a small cage in the outdoor exhibit she shares with the male blue monkey, J.T. They practiced giving her saline injections before starting the animal's daily insulin treatments in March.

Training wasn't easy. Shelley was initially very aggressive toward keepers, but patience, positive reinforcement and treats of apple pieces gradually worked, said Amy Chester, the zoo's great apes lead keeper.

Now, Shelley goes into the small cage on voice command each morning. "She goes in and eats her apple and sits and waits for us," Chester said.

One wall of the small cage can be moved so that a zookeeper can shift Shelley close enough, reach through the cage opening and inject her in the right or left hip.

The 13-pound Shelley's diet was adjusted. Bananas were cut out of her diet, and she can have only four grapes a week.

Story here.

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