Bubbles! Bubbles! Bubbles!
Every baby loves a bubble bath…well, not EVERY baby. An outbreak of the fungal infection micoze at Tchimpounga required some innovative thinking. Veterinarians determined that medical soap baths every other day were the most effective method to treat the outbreak. As many infant chimpanzees are afraid of water, caregivers had to be creative about making the baths more fun.
In filled basins containing warm water and medicated soap, the babies were allowed to explore their surroundings and the baths’ bubbles. Some of the infants immediately fell in love with the slippery, bubble-filled water, while others slowly approached to peek into the basin or warily stick a hand in the water.
While administering medication via bath takes longer and requires more effort than other methods, the bath method creates a more enjoyable experience for young chimps and prepares them for treatment of potential, future skin ailments. Conditioning chimpanzees at the sanctuary to readily accept medical treatments can drastically reduce stress during illness, as well as help the staff to administer medication in an effective manner.
Treating the fungal infection has been a major challenge for Tchimpounga’s staff. Infants were not the only ones affected. All of the sanctuary’s chimps needed treatment. Over many months, treatment required more than 1,200 tubes of ointment, 500 bars of medicated soap, and large amounts of oral medication. In addition, the process required a lot of time, money and effort!
by Jenny Desmond