Hadiah’s Breathing Treatments

February 28, 2019

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is home to a very special Bornean orangutan named Hadiah. 22-year-old Hadiah is mom to four-year-old Ember and has called Cheyenne Mountain Zoo home since she was born here on June 8, 1996. With her gentle affection and engaging demeanor, she is a legendary guest and staff favorite.

She makes eye contact, cuddles and plays with her daughter, holds her hands up against the glass to meet guests’ hands on the other side, seems to love attention from keepers, and becomes super-focused any time a guest shows her a video on a phone or tablet from the other side of the glass.

Guests often wonder what similarities they share with Hadiah and her fellow great apes in Primate World. One experience Hadiah shares with many humans is that she takes medications every day for her allergies.

Hadiah has respiratory disease related to allergies which makes her prone to secondary infections in her airways. The disease was likely inherited from her parents who both had it. Early research suggests that some respiratory disease in orangutans may resemble cystic fibrosis in humans. CMZoo staff and vets have worked with many specialists including zoo veterinarians and MDs from around the country to help keep her healthy. Based on her allergy testing results and medical work-ups, Hadiah gets immunotherapy treatments which are administered as drops under her tongue each day. Additionally, she receives daily nebulizer treatments that sometimes include antibiotics and saline to help her better breathe and avoid complications.

Hadiah’s allergies and respiratory disease have been under CMZoo management for years, and they seem to be overall working well to keep her from getting sick. Human or ape, breathing issues can be treated in a variety of ways. Children’s Hospital Colorado, CMZoo year-round sponsor, recently shared this article to help us humans navigate the various respiratory issues and treatments to consider.

The nebulizer that staff uses with Hadiah is the same type as many humans use to treat colds, asthma or other respiratory illness, but the process is a little different. Primate World keepers administer the treatment and provide positive reinforcement as Hadiah inhales medication from the nebulizer through a protected mesh barrier.

Click the video below to see how Hadiah and her keepers work together to administer respiratory treatments that help maintain Hadiah’s respiratory health.