The Orangutan Conservancy Blog: Day 2 Report From the OC/OVAG Workshop


SOCP's Drh. Yenni  details two innovative surgeries
SOCP’s Drh. Yenni details two innovative surgeries

Here we are with the highlights from DAY 2 of the OC/OVAG Veterinary Workshop.

Discussions today centered on the huge document of articles and pertinent information accumulated by Steve Unwin for the delegates. He went over a few key articles. Also reviewed were articles that were published but were not exactly correct – it really brought home the fact that we cannot believe everything we read – just because it gets published in a journal – we must always read with a critical eye.

Case studies were also given today. Two that were particularly interesting were about recent innovative surgeries done on orangutans in Sumatra.

One orangutan was brought to the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) after having been attacked by workers in an oil palm plantation. He was beaten and tied so tightly that his skin was broken all around the ankle – and so deep that it cut his Achilles tendon. The SOCP team was called in as the local people had no idea what to do with the orangutan. Team SOCP arrived and immediately started treating him, at least to stop the bleeding. They then took him to their field clinic where they tried to suture the wound, but that did not work, so they allowed the wound to heal on its own and because orangutans are amazing in that they heal very quickly. After the healing began, they then were able to think about tackling the tendon. As it was severed, they took a long thin strand of muscle tissue from the outer thigh and doubled it and then twisted it make it stronger. They then attached it to the two ends of where the original tendon would have been. They anchored it with special screws and twisted a wire into the muscle strip to add strength. They then tried a cast but that is nearly impossible with an orangutan – so SOCP’s Drh. Yenni created a special plastic tubing cast that she made orangutan-proof so that the ankle would be stable while it healed.

The orangutan is now ready to be returned to the wild!

The other surgery to an orangutan, also under Yenni’s medical care, was from the release site in Jambi. Here, innovative techniques were also employed to repair a fractured femur (the orangutan fell out of a tree – yes that does happen). The two ends of the broken femur needed to be brought together for healing, but they did not have the proper equipment. They really needed to get creative on this one. They had wire tubing that was really too thin but it was enough to at least hold the two ends together (by removing some of the marrow to allow the tubing into each end). Then they fashioned this unique plate onto the bone to keep the broken ends together. Then the wound was sutured. Again, the orangutan healed very quickly and after just 30 days, she was using her limb! She is now soon to be returned back to the release site.

Yes, it was an amazing day.

Raffaella stands in front of the OC/OVAG banner
Raffaella stands in front of the OC/OVAG banner

To learn more about the annual OC/OVAG Veterinary Workshops please click here.

The OC Blog is being written this month by Dr. Raffaella Commitante, OC Board Member and facilitator of the OC/OVAG Veterinary Workshop, which is being held in Bogor, Indonesia.



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    1. Thank you for your nice comment. We’re happy that you are enjoying the daily updates form the 2013 OC/OVAG Veterinary Workshop. The Day 4 update will be up soon.

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