Thursday, November 20, 2008

Near-sighted Orangutan

Have you ever had to hold something close to your face to focus on it? This can be a sign that your vision is changing. Being a human, you would be able to go to the opthamologist and have an eye exam done. Easy right? Now try having the same problem, but you're an almost 300 pound male orangutan. You can't tell the zoo keepers you're having trouble focusing, all you can do is show them. Recently, we had an opthamologist from the University of Minnesota confirm that Jambu, the adult male orangutan at the zoo, is near-sighted. Zoo keepers have suspected that Jambu may have trouble focusing on things further than arms' distance because he examines new items that he is given by holding them a foot or less away from his face. During an operant conditioning training session, Jambu was given a preliminary examination from an opthamology vet from the U of M. Jambu was an excellent patient, but being a wild animal, the opthamologist was not able to get as close as she needed for a full exam and still be safe. Last week though, when Jambu was scheduled for his annual physical, the opthamologist was able to examine him fully while he was under sedation. She confirmed that Jambu is extremely near-sighted in his right eye, much more so than in his left. As of now, Jambu continues to get along very well with his limited vision, so aside from continuing his eye exams during training sessions, no further action will be taken.

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