Nine-year-old Manka broke her leg after a fall at a forest sanctuary in Cameroon, and required specialist treatment.
On hearing the news, renowned veterinary surgeon Sharon Redrobe and Kinley Smith of Pride Veterinary Centre, Derby, flew out to the sanctuary – Ape Action Africa – to conduct an operation.
Over the course of the procedure, however, it became clear that Manka’s leg was severely infected and would need to be amputated in order for her to survive.
No surgery is without risk, but in the African jungle those risks are magnified. Surgery is performed in the sanctuary’s classroom, fly-swatters stand-in for nurses, and a wheelbarrow is used instead of a gurney. High temperatures and humidity also make working conditions unbearable.
“With surgery underway, it became immediately clear that something was wrong,” explains Dr. Smith. “Manka’s bones should have been hard but instead they were soft and clearly infected.”
He adds: “Even in the hospital back in Derby, saving her leg would have been a challenge. But in the rainforest we were in a race to save her life. Our only hope was to amputate her leg above the infection.”
Despite the working conditions, Dr. Redrobe remains hopeful about the outcome of Manka’s surgery. CEO of Twycross Zoo and chair of Trustees for Ape Action Africa, she is a renowned expert in the care and treatment of endangered wild animals.
“I am delighted that Twycross Zoo can support Ape Action Africa and I am very grateful to Kinley for helping to perform such challenging surgery at short notice,” she said.
“Despite complications during surgery, Manka recovered well after the three-hour operation and was pain free, walking and eating the same day.”