“Many animals hide signs of sickness because displaying them can make them an easy target for predators to hunt them down,” said a vet doctor Titus Mukungu during the annual health check at UWEC.
Following a recent outbreak of severe abdominal pain, diarrhea and weight loss that led to primate fatalities in Kibale National Park, Uganda Wildlife Education Center (UWEC) is not taking any chances to monitor the health of those in their custody.
While there last week, the mood was tense as monkeys and chimpanzees were sedated by veterinary doctors. In rapid succession, checks were conducted for blood tests, pressure measurement, stool sampling, and dental inspection.
"Many animals hide signs of sickness because displaying them can make them an easy target for predators to hunt them down," said a vet doctor Titus Mukungu during the annual health check at UWEC. "The animal keeper monitors how these animals at UWEC behave every day. They see if one is not well."
According to the UWEC executive director James Musinguzi, the responsibility for the care and management of the animals resides in the Animal Programs Department, Animal Health Department, and Pathology Department.
"These departments are generally responsible for the exhibition, day-to-day care, and health of the animal collection, "said Musinguzi. "UWEC is responsible for reviewing exhibit, management, and research programs to ensure that animals in here receive humane care and treatment."
Behind the scenes, a monkey called Willy weighing 4 kg being handled by a team of gloved vet doctors wearing masks on their nostrils. After being injected it blacked out and had its teeth examined, heartbeat monitored and stool samples taken.
"He likes eating maize bread," revealed animal keeper Barbra Alapo. "He is a Patas monkey that some people think is proud but they like living high up in the trees. They are not common like the red-tailed ones."
A look at it was a revelation of a slim body with shabby fur, white around the belly and red on the back. The face was dark but had a white mustache and beard. The eyes have a brow ridge.
"It is common in semi-arid areas of Uganda," said Alapo. "In some places, they are called Wadi or Hussa monkeys. They grow to a length of between 24cm-35cm."