A gorilla with a chronic skin condition has had its symptoms relieved with a supplement traditionally used for dogs.

Twycross Zoo was faced with a challenging medical case with Biddy, a 40-year-old female Western lowland gorilla, that had been living with a chronic skin condition.

The zoo’s veterinary team assessed her condition by taking biopsies, skin scrapes and culture samples under anaesthetic – all with the hope her condition could be managed and Biddy could be made more comfortable.

Her diet and husbandry were reviewed by the team as part of her overall assessment.

She was also provided with skin supplements, including evening primrose oil, with little effect. A member of the Twycross Zoo veterinary team had seen good results with the skin supplement Yumega Plus in canines, so the team contacted Lintbells to see if Yumega Plus could help the gorilla.

John Howie from Lintbells explained: “We began by researching fatty acid intake in the diets of wild gorillas and identified their normal diet was very high in (alpha-linolenic acid), which acts as a moisture barrier to reduce dry skin.

“We visited the zoo in July 2012 to see Biddy and talk to the vets about her treatment regime and diet. We concluded using Yumega Plus – originally developed for use in dogs – could be beneficial to Biddy, so she was started on a course of 30ml per day.”

Yumega Plus is a blend of natural ingredients, including omega-3 and omega-6 oils from cold pressed golden flax, starflower and fresh salmon oil, and contains more than four times more essential fatty acids (EFAs) than traditional EFA supplements. All ingredients are selected to help treat dogs with sensitive and itchy skin.

To further support Biddy’s recovery, Lintbells provided a unique support formula including biotin, phospholipids and zinc that has proven successful in difficult canine skin cases. The supplement was given to Biddy orally as part of an overall management regime and has helped to improve her condition.

Sarah Chapman, head of veterinary services at Twycross Zoo, added: “Biddy has been a challenging case for us at Twycross Zoo. Many dog owners will have experience with chronic skin problems and understand how difficult they can be to resolve. 

“As part of our management of Biddy’s skin condition, we have worked closely with Lintbells to give her skin supplements to try to make the skin as healthy as possible.

“Biddy takes the supplement very well – it can often be difficult to get our animals to take treatment, so it helps she likes the taste. I feel the inclusion of Yumega Plus has definitely helped Biddy and formed a valuable part of her treatment regime.”
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