Anzac takes her medicine while a friend looks on
The rainy season has ended in Congo and the skies are covered with clouds almost all of the time. This has caused the temperature to drop and the evenings have become chilly and fresh. This is the season during which many of the chimps at Tchimpounga catch a cold, especially the younger chimps.
Earlier this summer, Anzac and the other youngsters in her group developed colds, which meant lots of runny noses! The veterinary team reacted quickly and isolated those who were ill to prevent them from spreading the illness to the others. Medication is provided by mouth, and if a chimpanzee has a fever it is sometime necessary to give them an antibiotic injection instead of oral, as it will work quicker.
When the infants have a fever, caregivers stay with them 24 hours a day to regularly check their temperature and keep the veterinary team informed of their condition. It is easy to give Anzac her medication because it is orange and tasty. The medicine is inserted into her mouth with a large syringe, and Anzac drinks it as if it were a tasty drink. The other chimpanzees watch carefully and await for their turn, looking longingly at the basket full of syringes. Two chimpanzees who are not sick still receive a syringe full of orange juice so they are not left out. Doing this helps avoid fights over who received a “treat” and who did not.
Coordination between the nurses and caregivers at Tchimpounga must be exact so that all chimps are well cared for. Caregivers are the people who spend more time with the chimpanzees than anyone else, so they are responsible for monitoring them for symptoms that might indicate that they are sick. When Anzac started showing her first symptoms of fever, the response of caregivers was immediate, warning the nurses who took immediate action to start treating her. This rapid response is vital because it can save the life of a chimpanzee, especially if they are very young.
A few days after of receiving her treatment, Anzac started regaining her vitality and returns to her normal play with the others. During her treatment time, Anzac was able to observe how the caregivers provide Lemba, her oldest roommate, with her physiotherapy. Lemba is paralyzed in both legs from contracting Polio. Her caregivers use a large rubber ball to help Lemba exercise her legs. Anzac also wanted to try out the new toy, but she wasn’t yet big enough so instead she just bounced off the ball. This of course has become a great game for Anzac, and now she waits until Lemba has finished her exercises and then the staff let her bounce around on the exercise ball!