The VCA San Francisco Veterinary Specialists team received a unique treat on April 24 … a behind-the-scenes tour with the veterinary staff at the San Francisco Zoo!
One of the special residents we met was “Big Twin,” an Emperor tamarin, which is a squirrel-sized (and handlebar-mustachioed!) monkey that originates in southern Central America.
Big Twin was born at the San Francisco Zoo on September 27, 1995, and has had many offspring over the years. “Twinning” is thought to be a tamarin survival strategy. To make this strategy work, males and females must work together to care for their young. Males often carry and protect the twins while the mother feeds in order to produce enough milk for two. As you can see from the photos, Big Twin looks delighted to be spending time with his offspring!
Unfortunately, Big Twin was not feeling up to par on the day of our visit. In 2008, he was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy (a deterioration of the performance of the heart muscle). Until very recently, no intervention was needed. As it happened, Justin Williams, DVM, DACVIM, our cardiologist here at VCA SFVS, was along for the tour. Working with SF Zoo veterinary staff, Dr. Williams was able to perform and interpret an ultrasound on Big Twin’s heart. While Big Twin’s disease is quite progressed, Dr. Williams will be able to assist in providing palliative care in order to alleviate pain or symptoms that could hinder Big Twin’s quality of life.
We are so thankful that we received this special tour from the SF Zoo, and are excited for the opportunity to partner with the Zoo’s veterinary team to provide the best quality of life for Big Twin. (Read more about the Zoo’s Emperor tamarins.)