GRAFTON, Mass. - Add another exotic animal to the list of animals aided by experts at the Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine: Kitombe, a western lowland gorilla at the Franklin Park Zoo.
The gorilla was put under anesthesia Thursday at Franklin Park Zoo so the zoo’s veterinary staff could examine him, with the assistance of Dr. Emily McCobb, a clinical assistant professor specializing in anesthesia at the Grafton-based veterinary school.
This was a routine physical examination for Kitombe, who is affectionately known as Kit. The exam included a general physical, blood work and a cardiac exam. The results received from the cardiac exam will go into a national database to assist in diagnosing cardiac disease in other gorillas.
“Everything went very smoothly with this examination and Kit appears to be in good health. We are very pleased with how everything went this morning,” said Dr. Eric Baitchman. “We have a tremendous team and this was a well-coordinated examination involving several different departments at the zoo as well as specialists that we asked to assist us. This level of teamwork plays an important role in ensuring that we have a safe and smooth procedure for the animals and the staff.”
The entire exam lasted about two hours. Blood work and cardiac results are not expected for a few weeks. Within about 30 minutes of the exam completion, Kit was awake and walking.
Also assisting was Dr. Nancy Laste, head of cardiology at Angell Animal Medical Center.
Thanks to the regular training program at the zoo, the zookeepers were able to administer the anesthesia to Kit by hand injection, which reduces the stress on the animal and the staff.
This marks the second time this year Cummings School experts have come to the aid of a Franklin Park Zoo animal. In February, Beau, a 13-year-old Masai giraffe, was treated by specialists from the Grafton campus.