Bongo is about 40 years old and spent more than half of his life in iron toxicity studies. Bongo arrived at Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary from the lab about 10 years ago and we would like to give him another 10 years!
Last month Bongo was walking very stiff-legged and having trouble climbing and balancing. We started him on arthritis medications to help his joints. We also rebuilt his habitat to accommodate his new disability. Unfortunately, a few days later he was dragging both of his legs -- Bongo could not walk!
We took Bongo in for radiographs to understand what was causing the paralysis. Dr. Schirmer told us that Bongo has spondylosis, calcified intervertebral discs, severe degenerative joint disease and a collapsed vertebrae -- we could not have received worse news.
Dr. Schirmer started Bongo on steroid injections and a PEG procedure, and when he still could not use his legs, our hearts sunk.
Bongo has such a will to live. Even after spending weeks in the clinic Bongo was still the charming monkey we all love. If you knew Bongo like we know Bongo, you would not give up on him -- and we are not about to!
We called Dr. Heard at the vet school and he suggested an MRI to further assess his condition, with the hope that the disc could be repaired surgically. Our hopes were dashed when we were told that Bongo's collapsed disc had ruptured into the spinal cord causing it to compress, pinch the nerves and cause full paralysis of his rear limbs, as well as incontinence. The prognosis: Bongo will never regain use of his rear limbs.
But Jungle Friends believes in miracles. So we set about building a habitat for a paraplegic monkey. It is filled with ropes and ladders, as well as raised feeding platforms to encourage Bongo to move about the habitat using his arms and get more exercise.
On June 6th, 2014, Bongo began using his left leg again. Veterinary Technicians and Care Staff could not believe it when they saw Bongo using his leg to walk. He even used his leg to get himself into the runway. We are so proud of Bongo and his determination to gain the use of his legs. Bongo is our miracle boy and every day we are so happy that Bongo is getting better.