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Monkey business at Mooroopna vet clinic

Jacko the crab-eating macaque is not the usual type of customer they operate on at Mooroopna Veterinary Clinic. For legal reasons, the pet monkey had to go under the knife and be castrated.

ASHLEIGH WILLIAMSON April 10, 2013 3:58am

Jacko the crab-eating macaque in his cage after being castrated at Mooroopna Veterinary Clinic yesterday.


Mark Austin felt like a parent leaving his scared child at hospital before an operation.

The only difference was his child was a monkey.

Mooroopna Veterinary Clinic staff castrated Jacko the crab-eating macaque yesterday.

Mr Austin said Jacko, 4, had to be castrated under Department of Sustainability and Environment laws to stop him breeding.

‘‘I was standing at his cage before the operation and he had his arms out cuddling me,’’ Mr Austin said.

‘‘He didn’t want me to leave.’’

Mr Austin built a special cage to stop Jacko resisting his anaesthetic needle.

Veterinarian Esma Corbic said the clinic asked the Melbourne Zoo for advice to properly anaesthetise Jacko.

‘‘We didn’t have a tranquiliser gun and we had never had to put a monkey to sleep before,’’ Dr Corbic said.

‘‘I watched an episode of The Zoo where they were operating on an orangutan and it woke up during the procedure and they had to leave the room.’’

Veterinarian Steph Gillett said Jacko’s operation needed caution because macaques carry Herpes B, the only non-human monkey virus that can infect people.

Herpes B infects people if a monkey bites, scratches or spreads any bodily fluid to a person.

The virus killed 16 of the 26 documented people it infected up to 2002.

‘‘We had two vets and two nurses and we wore two lots of gloves, face shields and scrub tops,’’ Dr Gillett said.

Jacko was the only patient at the Mooroopna clinic yesterday, because staff wanted to keep the operating room clean.

‘‘We sterilised the whole room,’’ Dr Gillett said.

Jacko also had his blood, teeth and urine checked during his two-hour operation.

He chewed at hot water bottles and a rubber glove in his cage after waking without his mojo.

‘‘We put a bandage on his arm to try and stop him picking his wound, but that didn’t last long, he ripped it straight off,’’ Dr Corbic said.

Mr Austin has owned monkeys at his Nagambie property for 20 years.

The Shepparton pet store owner has had Jacko since he was four months old.

Jacko was an orphan at Australia Zoo.

His pet ginger kitten named Lion will be happy his operation was successful.

‘‘They cuddle each other, sleep with each other,’’ Mr Austin said.

‘‘It’s just to stimulate him and give him someone when we’re not there.

‘‘Because he was an orphan, I couldn’t just put him in with another monkey.’’

Jacko was expected to return home last night and will remain on pain relief medication.

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