Drs. Dawn and Eddy prepare for the exams.By Dr. Dawn

On September 26th, Drs. Eddy, Martin, and I headed to Rumangabo to do the first quarantine examinations on Isangi and Baraka, at 12 days and 6 days post-confiscation, respectively. They had been adjusting well to their new environment, diet, and caretakers.  Baraka was still very much an infant, but Isangi was rambunctious and always looking for food, even biting caretakers when she was prevented from stealing Baraka’s bottle of milk.  She has quite large, cartoon-sized teeth, so although they an amusing characteristic, we hope she will soon realize that she will always have access to food and so using those huge teeth for biting is unnecessary. 

We volunteered Isangi to go first. Being older and feistier, the anesthesia was less risky for her.  Dr. Eddy injected her with a light dose of ketamine to sedate her just enough to perform an exam without her wiggling and allow us to draw blood without causing her stress.  She was in good health considering the prolonged time she had been in captivity: she had a good body weight, decent hair coat despite having had lice, no injuries, no signs of respiratory disease, and no diarrhea.  She was vaccinated for polio (more vaccines will be given in the future) and tested for tuberculosis.  Blood and swabs were taken to identify any internal health problems and to determine if she may have been exposed to any human-carried organisms.  Anesthetic recovery was uneventful and within an hour she was looking for bananas.

Baraka’s examBaraka was given an even a lower dose of ketamine for a light plane of sedation.  She was also found to be in fairly good body condition with no significant abnormalities.  Like Isangi, she was treated for lice (and other parasites), vaccinated, and tested for tuberculosis.  Her blood work showed that she was anemic, which we attributed to malnutrition and iron-deficiency.  She is currently be receiving iron supplements and shows no signs of a worsening anemia. After the exam, she slept in her caretaker’s arms.  We awoke her periodically to recheck her vitals, and she would try to suckle on our fingers.  About an hour later, she was given some milk and banana to keep her glucose level up as she is so young. 

Dr. Dawn with Baraka.Both gorillas have adjusted well.  They have quite distinct personalities due to their age difference, but I think Isangi is a comfort to Baraka and will take on a mentor role.  However, we hope to get them to GRACE to be with other gorillas soon after their 90-day quarantine.

Update October 6, 2012

By Dr. Eddy

BarakaAfter receiving iron supplemnts to treat her anemia, Baraka has shown a big change in behavior: She’s sucking milk from the feeding bottle without problem and with courage, she has started eating various food items that she was refusing before, she’s playing quite often, sometimes with Isangi, and trying to climb small trees in the yard. She’s jealous of Isangi, and she won’t accept having Isangi held together with her by the same caretaker. During feeding she’s ready to bite and to vocalize to stop Isangi from coming close to her. She’s starting to show her personality. 

The weight gain of Baraka is quite slow compared to Isangi who is eating a lot. Baraka has gained .3 kilos from her exam weight of 4.4 kilos while Isangi is now 7.4 kilos, up from 5.9.

IsangiIsangi has had no health problems so far. She is enjoying the good forest around her. She is very active as usual, bright, a good friend, and can move around alone. She gets quite aggressive, though, if she feels hungry and starts to bite and push the caretaker in the direction of the food storage. She’s trying to dominate Baraka and she can steal Baraka’s food right out of her hands. She loves to play, creating games and pushing the caretaker and Baraka to play with her. Isangi loves food too much.  

Both gorillas can wake up in the night and start playing, moving around, taking some milk and then back to sleep. 

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