• Animal Stories

    Topher the Miracle White Handed Gibbon

    Topher, a white handed gibbon native to Southeast Asia, came to the LEO Zoological Conservation Center (LEOZCC) in Greenwich, CT. from Florida when he was just two weeks old.  Topher is especially rare; not only because he is an endangered species but, because he is the only triplet gibbon ever recorded to be born. Unfortunately, his two smaller siblings did not survive. Twins births in zoos and conservation centers have occurred only four times and none have survived. Topher is a little miracle.


    Aside from the obvious challenge of  caring for three newborns, premature babies often have enlarged hearts and other medical complications. After the first loss, the staff of the facility consulted with LEOZCC and intervened.   The remaining two babies were transferred to the University of Florida Veterinary Hospital for enhanced around the clock care. The University continued to collaborate with the  conservation center which propagates the species and has had a track record of success in similar situations. When the delicate infants were stabilized, LEOZCC’s curator flew down to help the two remaining babies. Sadly, the second baby passed before she arrived.

    Topher had an uphill battle. He was anemic, under weight (a tiny 10 oz.),  and had enlarged heart. At the LEO Zoological Conservation Center he received round the clock feedings – every two hours – and full-time monitoring and observation. But, perhaps the most important factor was the human contact and nurturing…..and LOVE. At the center it’s what they think gave him the will to survive.

    Now, Topher is thriving. His last CT scan revealed that his heart is of a normal size. However, anyone that has ever looked into his eyes knows that his heart is as big as ever.


    LEO ZCC’s own “Fox and Hound’ Story


    Momma is a rescued foxhound that nursed a litter of four baby fennec foxes born to a mother who was unable to do so. Momma was located with help from Greenwich-based Adopt-a-Dog. Shortly before the fox pups were born, we  began looking for a lactating dog to act as a surrogate, as the foxes’ own mother lacked the mothering instinct. Volunteers from the two organizations networked and located Momma at a kill-shelter in North Carolina, and she was brought back to Connecticut by Adopt-A-Dog. After her arrival with her own just weaned puppies, Momma was nursing the baby fox pups, despite the breed’s natural inclination to hunt and kill foxes.

    Mama, the dog, was adopted by a wonderful family in CT. She’s extremely happy and healthy. All her six puppies were adopted too. As for the foxes, two of the brothers are living together right here in CT at the Hartford Children’s Museum. (You can even visit them there!) One of the foxes went to the Metro Richmond Zoo in VA and another went to Safari West, a zoo in northern CA.


    The Story of Tiny Tim – a Monkey Family Rescued

    Tiny Tim came to live at the LEO Zoological Conservation Center with his family when he was a little over a year and a half old.  The curator and keepers immediately noticed that there was something wrong.  Actually, there were many things wrong. Tiny Tim was adorable, fluffy and very tiny for his age. Mom Abby and Dad Sam were very rough-looking. Usually, black and white Capuchin are beautiful. But this family was different. The hair on their tails was thin and bare. Abby was nervously pulling her hair out of her arms. Sam had a sore near his mouth, and his lower eyelid was red and drooping.  They were almost bald, too.

    Perhaps the most unusual thing was that Mom and Dad were still carrying Tiny Tim on their backs and still parenting him very closely, even at his age, when he should have been capable of taking care of himself in many ways.  It became clear to all of us at the Center when, one day during feeding, Mom and Dad put Tiny Tim on the ground. He was hungry and wanted food too. The feeding area is high up– after all, they are monkeys! But instead of climbing up to eat, Tiny Tim reached out his arms to his parents and began to whine. As he became more impatient, he hopped closer to the food area on his bottom, much like a bunny. It was then we could see that his little arms were bent – he was disabled.  Soon Mom came down to get him.

    Now it was easy to solve the puzzle as to what was wrong with this monkey family, and a phone call and an X-ray later, the Center confirmed it.

    This monkey family had been housed inside for most of their lives and all of Tiny Tim’s life. They were suffering from rickets, a disease in which the body cannot properly absorb nutrients due to a lack of vitamin D3, which is received from sunshine. What’s more, Mom and Dad needed extensive dental work, including root canals. Their teeth were rotting – how painful that must have been, and they couldn’t even ask for help! That’s also why the Dad had a droopy red eyelid and a sore near his mouth. It was an abscess.  Tiny Tim’s arms and legs were bent and full of tiny fractures because they couldn’t support his weight, and his muscles were underdeveloped.

    The LEO Zoological Conservation Center’s staff worked with the vet and the family began an extensive healing program. Abby and Sam got their dental work done. Vitamin therapy, a good, healthy diet, lights that simulate sunshine indoors, plenty of things to climb on and swing from and play with, and best of all, they all got to go outside!!

    Tiny Tim is still tiny but he’s crawling, swinging and rarely hitching a ride.  It’s a real happy ending for this monkey family!

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