Zoo partners with medical experts from Oklahoma’s leading veterinary and human hospitals to provide best medical care for critically endangered wildlife.

On Saturday, June 24, The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden’s veterinary team collaborated with veterinary and human medical professionals from BluePearl Veterinary Partners, the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center and Oklahoma University Health Sciences to conduct a medical exam on the OKC Zoo’s 32-year-old Western lowland gorilla, Emily.

Emily’s caretakers worked with the Zoo’s veterinary team to closely monitor an umbilical hernia that had become prominent at an early age and continued to grow in size following Emily’s pregnancy with daughter, Rubi, in March 2015.

The veterinary team performed regular ultrasounds on Emily at the Great EscApe habitat to ensure that the hernia was not harmful. Emily voluntarily participated in these exams as she had been trained to do so by her caretakers making the experience more comfortable for her. In mid-June, Emily began exhibiting signs of hair loss and sporadic appetite loss so the veterinary team made the decision to transport her to the Joan Kirkpatrick Animal Hospital for further examination.

“Our main priority is to provide the animals in our care with the best possible treatment,” said Dr. Jennifer D’Agostino, Oklahoma City Zoo director of veterinary services. “Our partnerships with BluePearl, Oklahoma University and other medical professionals provide expertise and resources that assist us in making this possible.”

The 4-hour exam began at the Joan Kirkpatrick Animal Hospital, where the Zoo veterinary team worked diligently to conduct a full examination of the hernia, which included ultrasounds, radiographs, a skin biopsy, and the collection of urine and blood samples for preventative measures.

Once the first portion of the exam had concluded, Emily was transported from the Zoo’s hospital to BluePearl’s Oklahoma City location. After arriving at BluePearl, anesthesiologist, Dr. Tiffany Granone, met with Zoo caretakers and veterinary team to conduct a CT scan on Emily.

Emily arrived back at the Joan Kirkpatrick Animal Hospital for the last part of her examination – an echocardiogram conducted by Lynne Size with Oklahoma City VA Medical Center. Because great apes are prone to heart disease, heart checkups are a regular component of their health care program at the Zoo.

“Since her examination in June, Emily has shown signs of recovery, said Robin Newby, assistant curator of Great EscApe at the Oklahoma City Zoo, “Her appetite is back and her hair is beginning to grow again. We will continue to monitor Emily’s medical status alongside our veterinary team regularly.”

The results from Emily’s examination indicated that she is, in fact, healthy and the hernia is not causing her pain or discomfort. However, the Zoo’s veterinary team will continue to monitor the hernia by ultrasound on a monthly basis.

The Zoo is home to two troops of Western lowland gorillas – a family and bachelor troop. They can be viewed in the Zoo’s Great EscApe habitat. The population of Western lowland gorillas was reduced by 80 percent by 2008, which classified their species as critically endangered. The Oklahoma City Zoo works with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International to provide funds to help protect Western lowland gorillas in their native habitat.

– Dr. Jennifer D’Agostino, OKC Zoo director of veterinary services

About BluePearl Veterinary Partners

BluePearl Veterinary Partners is a national provider of emergency and specialty veterinary care. The rapidly growing company currently operates more than 60 hospitals in 21 states. BluePearl hospitals offer specialty care services such as cardiology, neurology and oncology, and most offer 24-hour emergency care. BluePearl’s clinicians use innovative procedures, high-tech equipment and the latest treatment methods to provide remarkable care for pets. BluePearl also participates in clinical trials to study the effectiveness of new drugs and treatments, providing access to cutting-edge medicine that is not yet commercially available. Learn more at bluepearlvet.com.


VIDEO:  The following link contains video footage of the medical examination and includes an interview with BluePearl anesthesiologist, Dr. Tiffany Granone.https://goo.gl/Sxt3Sw

LINK TO PHOTOS: https://goo.gl/iHzs3n

Photo descriptions:

·         “OU Health Sciences Echocardiogram” shows Theresa Thai, MD, OU Physicians radiologist.

·         “Zoo Vet Team and OU team at the Zoo’s Joan Kirkpatrick Animal Hospital” includes Jason Lees, MD, OU Physicians surgeon and Elisa Crouse, MD, OU Physicians obstetrician/gynecologist.

·         “Zoo Vet Team Collaborate at the Zoo’s Joan Kirkpatrick Animal Hospital” includes third from left in scrubs: Elisa Crouse, MD, OU Physicians obstetrician/gynecologist; fourth from left in scrubs: Jason Lees, MD, OU Physicians surgeon; fifth from left Theresa Thai, MD, OU Physicians radiologist and far right Jason Wagner, OU Physicians radiologist.



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