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It is with profound sadness that Zoo Miami announces that “Kumang,” a 44 year-old Bornean Orangutan, died yesterday during recovery from anesthesia following a dental procedure. The 140 lb. great ape was anesthetized yesterday morning to have two teeth extracted which were damaged and causing an infection in her gums. The anesthesia, examination, and dental care went as planned and was uneventful. During the entire time she was under anesthesia, Kumang was closely monitored by the team of Zoo Miami veterinarians and veterinary technicians, as well as a human cardiologist. Her vitals remained stable and the extractions were performed without complications. Following the procedure, she was returned to her enclosure to recover.
She proceeded to recover, occasionally emitting a mild cough which is not unusual for an animal that has been intubated for anesthesia. She was observed opening her eyes, sitting up normally on her own, and was able to climb to her platform bed. She then, for reasons yet unknown, went into a recumbent position and stopped breathing. The Animal Health team performed several emergency procedures, including CPR, in efforts to resuscitate Kumang, but sadly, they were not successful. A thorough necropsy will be performed today to hopefully determine the cause of death.
We at Zoo Miami are heartbroken over this terrible loss and our deepest condolences go out to the staff that provided Kumang with such great care over the years. She leaves behind an 8 year-old daughter named Bella, who continues to reside at Zoo Miami.
Dental health is a key component of the Animal Health Department’s preventative medicine program at Zoo Miami. A variety of issues ranging from gum disease to fractured and broken teeth can lead to critical care issues that may result in serious infection and even death without treatment.
Because animals generally do not complain about dental pain, dental disease is often referred to as “silent suffering” in the animal health field. By the time serious signs such as loss of appetite and weight are evident, the disease or infection process may be quite advanced and can be a debilitating and sometimes fatal issue in animals that do not receive the proper care.
As part of the overall preventative medicine program at Zoo Miami, dental exams are routinely done on a variety of animals during regular general health exams. If and when issues are diagnosed, depending on the severity of the problem, Zoo Miami’s team of veterinarians will either perform the treatment themselves, or, when there are more complicated cases, enlist the assistance of a veterinary dental specialist.
This week, veterinary dentist, Dr. Jamie Berning, DVM, DAVDC, from Veterinary Dentistry and Oral Surgery of Ohio, along with her veterinary technician, Jill A. Bates, RVT, VTS – Dentistry, traveled from their home in Columbus, Ohio to perform a series of procedures on a variety of animals including lions, Orangutans, a pygmy hippo, tapir, meerkat, tree kangaroo, and an otter. Joining them is David Leisten from iM3 Imaging Specialists, who flew in from Vancouver, Washington to provide the special imaging equipment needed. All the visiting veterinary and imaging specialists donate their time. The procedures are being done over several days and range from general consults, cleanings and exams to extractions and root canals.
On Saturday, September 4th, a critically endangered white-cheeked gibbon was born at Zoo Miami! It is only the second white-cheeked gibbon born in the zoo’s history. The 18 year old mother’s name is “Millie” who also is the mother of the first baby that was born in August of 2013. This is the first offspring for the 9 year old father named, “Cuong.” Though there has been no confirmation as to the sex of the baby, early observations indicate that it is a male.
The infant, along with its mother and father, made its public debut yesterday for only about an hour while their normal exhibit mates, mother and daughter Orangutans, were kept in their night house to ensure that there was no interaction that might harm the baby. Millie kept the baby very close to her chest the entire time while visiting several areas within the habitat and was also observed nursing it.
These endangered primates are naturally found in the canopy of tropical forests in Southeast Asia where they feed on a variety of fruits, leaves, and occasional insects. They are monogamous animals known for their high pitched territorial calls that can be heard over great distances in the forest. They use their extremely long arms to acrobatically swing through the trees and contrary to popular belief, are not monkeys, but rather lesser apes, due in part to the lack of a tail.
The plan is for the infant and its parents to initially make limited appearances on exhibit for short amounts of time by themselves. Once the staff feels that they have acclimated well to being on their habitat, they will be slowly introduced to the Orangutans which they normally share the space with until zoo staff feels that they have adjusted properly and can remain outside, along with the Orangutans, for the entire day.
Photo by: Ron Magill
Today, “Tesla,” a 17-year-old electric eel from Peru, was immobilized so that the Animal Health team could surgically remove several growths that had developed over the past several weeks. Because an electric eel can generate up to 800 volts of electricity, this patient had to be very carefully handled!
After using specific drugs that were diluted in water within a transport container, zoo staff, using special rubber insulated gloves and nets, transferred the eel into the container and waited for the anesthesia to take effect while being transferred to the zoo’s animal hospital. Once it was determined to be fully anesthetized, it was removed from the container so it could be weighed and X-rayed.
The eel was then placed on an exam table where Associate Zoo Veterinarian, Dr. Marisa Bezjian, working in conjunction with the Animal Health and Animal Science teams, surgically removed several growths on the eel’s body. Cultures and biopsies were taken of the growths to determine what they may be. The results of those tests won’t be known for several weeks.
While the eel was anesthetized, blood was also collected and an ultrasound exam was done. Other than the growths, the eel appeared to be in generally good health for its advanced age. The growths were successfully removed and the eel appears to be recovering well in a holding facility in the “Amazon and Beyond” area of the zoo.
Electric eels are not actually eels but rather are more closely related to knife fish. They are widely distributed in a variety of freshwater habitats in northern South America. In addition to having gills, they will periodically surface to breathe air with their mouths which enables them to live in very poorly oxygenated water. They are basically carnivores that feed on a variety of fish and crustaceans. In addition to defense, they use their ability to emit strong electric shocks to immobilize their prey. The organs responsible for producing that electricity make up approximately 80% of the animal’s body, with all of its other organs located in the front 20% next to the head. They have a lifespan of 10-15 years for males and 12-22 years for females.
Today, Zoo Miami’s newest baby Slender-Horned Gazelle was introduced to the exhibit with its parents. The calf was born on August 21st but has been in seclusion with its parents to give it time to properly bond and ensure that it has a good healthy start to life. Mom’s name is “Gladys” and dad’s name is “Pip,” in honor of legendary performers, Gladys Knight and the Pips! In keeping with the theme, the baby, a male, has been named, “Bubba,” after one of the actual “Pips!” At birth, the calf weighed just over 3 pounds and presently has the body size of a Chihuahua with very long legs!!
With less than 2,500 believed to exist in the wild, the endangered Slender-Horned Gazelle is found in isolated pockets of the Sahara in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Algeria. Found in herds of usually less than 8 individuals but sometimes numbering close to 20, their greatest threats are hunting and human activity in their range. Their most common natural predators are lions and jackals. Weighing between 40 and 60 pounds, they selectively feed on a variety of flowers, fruits and young leaves from the plants found in their habitat. Both males and females have slender horns with the male’s growing longer to a length of approximately 15”. They are relatively small gazelles with an adult shoulder height of approximately 28 inches.