Sep 17, 2012 / 10:40 am
Peanut is an 8-year-old orangutan and a star attraction at Miami's Jungle Island. These days she's also got a team of cancer doctors huddling around her, watching as the chemo drip flows into her veins.
Peanut, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, is not the first great ape to be treated for cancer like a human. An orangutan with advanced stage cancer at the National Zoo in Washington had surgery to remove a cancerous intestinal tumour in 2000. In 2009, two female gorillas at the North Carolina Zoo underwent radiation therapy. All three cases involved much older apes, in their 30s or 40s, and all had to be euthanized.
But while other animals are treated with chemotherapy, it's not common among orangutans.
Dr. Ryan DeVoe, senior veterinarian at the North Carolina Zoo where the two female gorillas lived, said he has found no record of other great apes being treated with chemo. But he also noted that many cases involving great apes with cancer are not reported or documented.
DeVoe says Peanut has age on her side for either being cured or at least experiencing remission and living normally and comfortably for a long period of time.
The orangutan has been undergoing chemotherapy to treat the aggressive lymphoma since August.
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