There are inherent challenges we have when trying to diagnose medical issues with the animals in our care. First, we cannot discuss their condition with them as a doctor would a human patient. We can overcome this to a large extent by relying on the excellent keeper staff who take care of the animals on a daily basis. Their empathy with the animals is amazing. A second challenge is accessing some of the diagnostic equipment typically available only to human patients. Fortunately, because of our relationship with the University of Rochester, we can access high-quality imaging equipment such as CT scanning and MRI machines.
Recently, one of our olive baboons, six-year-old Jefferson, has been heard breathing audibly through his nose. At the Zoo, our veterinary staff was able to use an endoscope to look up his nose while he was under anesthesia, but could not fully determine a cause. Therefore, they elected to bring him to the University of Rochester for a CT scan. A benign thickening of his nasal passage was seen, which restricts his breathing in one nostril.
While this is an abnormality, Jefferson is accommodating well and no surgery is planned at this time. The risk of complications is far greater than the potential benefit of invasive surgery. Zoo staff will continue monitoring and possibly be repeating a CT scan as Jefferson matures to see if he possibly grows out of this condition. Jefferson, who is often out in the exhibit during the winter, is as interactive and playful with exhibit mates and staff as ever. Be sure to visit Jefferson, our young male baboon famous for his buck-toothed grin!
- Larry Sorel, County Zoo Director