At Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary our priority is to ensure that we have the space and resources to care for rescued chimpanzees and so we use contraceptive implants in our adult females. Occasionally, accidents do happen and Jeneba (Tacugama’s youngest resident, at 7 months old) was born to Jerry earlier this year. In October, she started showing signs of a problem in her left eye. Initially we assumed there had just been some trauma (a bump or a poke) to the eyelid which would resolve in time. When after a few days the eye started to pop out alarmingly, further action was required. After a sedation of the mother and baby, closer investigation was possible. Our newly arrived vet, Jenny Jaffe, discovered there was a pocket of pus behind Jeneba’s eyeball, pushing it forward.
As this was not the type of case she was familiar with, Jenny sent a request for advice to the PASA Health mailing list (PASA=Pan-African Sanctuary Alliance). Within a very short period of time, emails from primate vets and eye doctors around the globe came flooding in with helpful advice. They all considered surgical draining of the ‘retrobulbar’ abscess the best option to save her eyesight. Unfortunately this meant that Jeneba had to be separated from her mother to allow the operation and aftercare to take place.
Fortunately, Jeneba adapted quite quickly to Mama Posseh’s expert care, the surgery went well and the infection was cured.
Within a little over a week, she was able to be happily reunited with her mum. Her left eyelid is still a bit droopy, but her eyesight is fine and she is as active as ever. Many thanks to everyone in the PASA network who supported us with their advice and helped Dr Jenny to treat Jeneba’s eye.