When Eleanor, a baby baboon, was found, her condition was far more dire than her rescuers could have ever anticipated.
“With a fractured skull, wounds all over her face and head, and threatening seizures, she may not make it,” the Centre for Animal Rehabilitation and Education (C.A.R.E.), based in South Africa, wrote on Facebook in early June.
WARNING: Graphic photo ahead
Eleanor was reportedly the victim of a road accident where she lost her mother, but if so, it left her with an odd injury a perfectly circular wound on her head that exposed her skull.
While C.A.R.E. thinks that she might have been hit over the head with a hard object, the actual truth behind her injury remains unknown.But, despite everyone’s worries, Eleanor showed the team just how strong she was by making it through her very first night in C.A.R.E.’s guidance. “For a few days this little lady, named Eleanor, after the famous, strong American politician Eleanor Roosevelt, had a lot of neurological symptoms typical of a head injury,” C.A.R.E. wrote.
She could only turn her head to the left, and her eyes constantly flickered. She suffered from muscle spasms and small seizures but despite all of this, an X-ray showed the rescue that Eleanor had a good chance of survival. In order to protect Eleanor’s head from an infection, and allow the fracture to heal,C.A.R.E.’s veterinary team made a hat-like bandage the baboon wore in between treatments.
“She spends a few hours a day getting to know her new surroundings but we are very careful, knowing that a small bump on the head or stumble could be devastating,” C.A.R.E. wrote in an update on June 17.
It wasn’t long before Eleanor got an actual small hat to cover her bandaged head as well and started to behave the way a young baboon should, showing that her initial neurological problems weren’t permanent.
During her early recovery, another orphaned female baboon arrived at C.A.R.E. and Eleanor was paired with her in the hopes that the two of them could be a part of the same baboon troop someday. “The bonds they form now in the nursery will be bonds they share for life,” C.A.R.E. wrote.
For now, C.A.R.E. is most concerned with getting the two of them healthy enough to introduce them to an adult female baboon, who could become their surrogate mother.
Eleanor still has a long way to go, but she continues to improve each day. Her wound has even healed enough that carers were able to stitch it shut. However, the area is still delicate, with new, soft bone growing in and so Eleanor was upgraded from wearing bandages to a custom-made foam “helmet” to protect her fragile head.
Recent photos show Eleanor with her favorite caretaker, looking strong and content in her newest hat. Although she’s not out of the woods just yet, the hope is that one day Eleanor will be able to ditch her helmet and live her out the rest of her life as naturally as possible in the wild. She’s shown no signs of giving up anytime soon, as she continues to grow and become a confident and playful girl. “Eleanor is a fighter and has shown so much heart and soul,” C.A.R.E. said.
Eleanor and her friend both have a long road ahead. If you’d like to support their recovery, you can make a donation here.
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