The coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes; allergies are no fun, and we're not the only ones suffering. At the Sacramento Zoo, one of the chimpanzees has his very own allergist.
For years, Joe the chimp had sniffles, coughs, watery eyes and trouble breathing. That's when the Zoo brought in allergy specialist, Dr. Stephen Nagy. Sure, most of his patients are human, but when it comes to animals, Dr. Nagy says, "they have allergies too."
Working alongside Leslie Field, the Zoo's Mammal Supervisor, Dr. Nagy created an ideal cocktail to keep Joe's respiratory troubles to a minimum while improving his overall health.
Leslie says people are often surprised to hear Joe the chimp has his own allergist, "I don't think people realize how much we rely on human doctors and human remedies. Apes in particular are very close to humans, so we can make use of all the human doctors on the planet which is really nice for their care."
So how does a zoo keeper convince a clever chimp like Joe to take his medicine? Turns out, it's all in the delivery. The zookeepers get the chimps accustomed to taking juice or yogurt on a daily basis so that if and when they need to be given medicine, the process isn't scary or unusual.
It's not just allergists. Zoos everywhere pull in eye, foot and heart doctors to help with primate health.
"It enables us to give them the best care we can possibly give them-- it lengthens their lives." Leslie explains.
Chimps can live well into their sixties with the right care. Right now the zoo has two, including Joe, in their forties.