How often will the veterinary team check up on Moke?
Neiffer: For the most part, the primate team will be monitoring Moke’s behavior and will reach out to the veterinary team if anything concerns them. Keepers have a very positive and trusting relationship with Calaya, so veterinarians rely heavily on their observations. The gorillas get suspicious when the vets arrive in the building. The keepers provide us with great progress reports, so we will be keeping tabs on Moke—just from a distance.
What if Moke’s behavior changes?
Neiffer: At the moment, he is not exhibiting any behaviors that would indicate he is in pain. That may be because the fracture is not displaced.
Our primate team is on the lookout for evidence of pain as well as physical changes—swelling increasing near the fracture site or in his foot, if his toes are cold to the touch and/or if he is unable to clench his toes. Those are all indications that we would need to evaluate him as soon as possible. At that point, we would likely need to do a surgical intervention.
How long will it take for his bone to heal?
Neiffer: The next seven to 10 days is a critical period. Assuming Moke limits his movement and there is no further trauma to his leg, he will form a callus that will help remodel the bone within that 10-day window.
Any time you fracture a bone, there is a possibility it could re-fracture. The good thing is that he is a young, growing animal. Whereas an adult might be out of commission for six-to-eight weeks with a similar fracture, 30 days is probably more than enough time for a healthy gorilla infant to heal. At that time, the fracture site should have about 80 percent of the stability it had before the break, and it will fully resolve in a couple months’ time.