Sunday, February 1, 2009

Never A Break!

What a stressful night --

At around 9 pm last night, two of the caregivers from the sanctuary came to the house carrying Mangé, who, to remind you, was confiscated last summer and integrated into the sanctuary community this past December.

Mangé had had a cold two weeks ago, and had been given medicine and had recovered.

Or at least we thought! Some part of his cold had moved to his lungs, so he was sort of wheezing and coughing, but it was clear that it was a really dry cough.

Polycarpe, Mangé’s surrogate mother during his long quarantine period, seemed extremely worried, and we all huddled in the dark living room, illuminated only by the weak glow of our substandard Chinese flashlights.

The air was so chill that I wasn’t sure whether I was tense with cold or tense with worry, but seeing Polycarpe holding Mangé so tight, swathed in a blanket, while Mangé’s head lolled around and they tried to give him some honey --- of course I was reminded of Akuma Cleveland, and my heart sank even further.

Mangé had been a fighter-- a success story -- who no one thought would live when he was taken in last year. Akuma may have given up, but Mangé hadn’t, and the thought of losing him - or any of the other chimps, was more than I could bear.

Because of the late hour, the pharmacy was closed (and is also closed on Sundays) so we made due with what we had -- and because I’ve also been prone to bronchial problems since having whooping cough in Uganda, I had some bronchial expectorant pills that we quartered and then ground up in a spoonful of water.

One of my chief concerns in taking over this project was the health of the chimpanzees. There are certain extremely strict procedures we follow to keep the chimps from getting sick (especially with regard to limited exposure to human pathogens), but once they GET sick, it can sometimes be difficult to diagnose and treat them.

Before I knew we would be sending the chimps to another location that already has an on-site vet, I was working on getting veterinary care out here, because it really is just that important.

Mangé threw up in the night, and the three of us stayed up very late, monitoring him and listening for improvements in his breathing.

I am happy to report today, at 3 pm, Mangé is already back on his feet and feeling much better after another 2 treatments of the bronchial medicine.

The danger is over, and I couldn’t be more relieved, but it does impress upon me ever more that pushing through the next two months might not just be “that easy”...

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