As you can imagine, we were very upset and frustrated. Plans were being discussed for Victor's release back to the wild, and Jonathan, the Masters student from Puerto Rico who had been to Gabon twice over the past 2 years to work with Victor and his keepers, was planning to return to tag Victor and track him post-release. As it turned out, Jonathan's return to Gabon has worked out well for him to assess Victor's condition and work to get him back to gaining weight. Jonathan arrived last week and immediately conducted a health assessment. He sent photos, a few of which I'm including below.
Although this has been a very difficult situation, I'm grateful that Victor is still alive, and that Jonathan was able to raise his own funds to return to Gabon at what turned out to be a critical time. My project was able to sponsor his two previous trips with generous support from the Georgia Aquarium, but for this one he's been able to raise the funds himself. I'm also very thankful for the continuing care consultations provided by veterinarians Greg Bossart of the Georgia Aquarium and Ken Cameron, as well as Tony Mignucci of the Manatee Conservation Center of Puerto Rico. We're now back on track to get Victor ready for release back to the wild!
Jonathan listens to Victor's heart rate while monitoring his breathing (photo courtesy of J. Perez-Rivera)