One-Year-Old Tapir Recovering Well After Neurological Tests

Timmy the tapir getting ready for an MRI.


Timmy the Baird’s Tapir at the Palm Beach Zoo is recovering well after undergoing neurological tests last week to diagnose a medical condition believed to have been around since birth.

Timmy was under anesthesia for several hours while a veterinary neurologist, Dr. Kersten Johnson with Palm Beach Veterinary Specialists, performed a CAT scan, MRI, spinal tap and took x-rays and blood. Preliminary findings indicate that Timmy has some irreversible damage to his brain.  The exact cause has not been determined.  For now, Timmy is back at the Palm Beach Zoo recovering well. He is already eating and moving around, as keepers keep a close eye on him.           

Here’s the background on what led to the neurological tests: Timmy was the first Baird’s tapir to be born at the Palm Beach Zoo on March 31, 2012. Zoo keepers hand raised him because Timmy’s mother did not demonstrate good maternal behaviors. Since his birth, keepers have been watching him closely. Over the past 11 ½ months, they’ve witnessed Timmy fall at times but exams never revealed any problems. However, two weeks ago, Palm Beach Zoo Clinical Veterinarian Dr. Genny Dumonceaux saw Timmy have his worst episode to date. She immediately called a veterinary neurologist who evaluated the tapir that day. It was determined that Timmy undergo further neurological tests including a CAT scan and MRI to diagnose his condition and the damage it has caused.

Some tests are still being evaluated.  Based on those results, further testing with veterinary specialists may be needed to determine the best treatment for Timmy.   The Zoo puts the health and safety of its animals first. By taking Timmy to specialists, Zoo staff is doing everything it can to help extend his life.

The Zoo will keep you informed of his health status. 

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