Grauer’s Orphan Kalonge Fractures Femur in FallBy Gorilla Doctors Staff on Tuesday, May 26th, 2015 in Blog.
Infant Grauer’s gorilla Kalonge, who was rescued in March 2014 after being caught in a snare outside of Kahuzi Biega National Park, fell while climbing in her outdoor enclosure at the Senkwekwe Center on May 12. Her caretaker, Babo, notified Dr. Eddy that Kalonge fell when she tried to jump from one tree to another. When she landed on the ground, she stayed very still for 45 minutes and wouldn’t let Babo come near her. When she began to move on the ground she was dragging her left leg behind her, but managed to climb back up into the tree.
Dr. Eddy traveled from Goma to Rumangabo to assess Kalonge’s condition at the Senkwekwe Center the following day. When Dr. Eddy arrived, the young orphan was moving around in a tree with ease, but not using her left leg. She was feeding and appeared bright, alert and responsive. When she moved down onto the ground, she dragged the injured leg behind her. When Dr. Eddy tried to approach her, she moved to bite the DRC Head Vet. After the initial observation, Dr. Eddy realized that Kalonge was seriously injured and needed a full exam under anesthesia in order to assess her condition. On Saturday, May 16, Dr. Eddy, along with Gorilla Doctors Co-Director, Dr. Mike Cranfield, completed the examination. Below are notes from the exam:
On Saturday, Kalonge was observed frequently coughing and had nasal discharge and a slight temperature of 99.2F. She had clearly contracted a respiratory infection and was given an antibiotic to help her overcome the illness. To begin the exam, Dr. Eddy sedated Kalonge and she was moved onto the exam table. The vets immediately noticed a large swelling around her left thigh. Upon palpation, it became clear that Kalonge’s femur was broken. While Kalonge was under anesthesia, the vets collected swab and blood samples for testing and future research.
Given the circumstances, treatment for Kalonge’s broken femur is limited. “You can’t cast a femur [in a gorilla] since a cast is used to immobilize the joint above and below the fracture… we can’t cast to keep the hip joint immobile like you can with humans.” Orthopedic surgery is not possible considering the facilities at the center, and the risk of infection would be too great. Dr. Mike reports that the fracture is nicely aligned for healing however, and it is being held stable by her strong thigh muscles.
“Kalonge is a tough girl” said Dr. Eddy. “Even with a broken leg, she is still climbing high into the trees, feeding and behaving normally.” Adds Dr. Mike: “she is a pistol. In the end I feel her leg will heal with a very high percentage of function.”
Kalonge’s recovery will be monitored closely in the coming weeks by the vets and her caretakers will be available round-the-clock to provide comfort and a high quality, nutritious diet to speed her recovery.