John Ball Zoo consults Spectrum Health hand specialist for chimpanzee

Susie diagnosed with benign tumor on her wrist

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Oct. 3, 2019 – When John Ball Zoo’s veterinarian Ryan Colburn first examined the lump on Susie the chimpanzee’s right wrist, he figured it could be anything from a harmless cyst to a malignant tumor. He just wasn’t sure, so he did what any good doc would do: He called in reinforcements.

Help came in the form of Spectrum Health hand surgeon Peter Jebson, who paid a visit to 32-year-old Susie. This was the first non-human case for Jebson, who has been a hand surgeon for 23 years.

Jebson believes the lump to be a lipoma, which is a soft-tissue tumor, or a fibroma made of fibrous or connective tissue. Both are benign and are common to humans. Together, the doctors decided to simply keep an eye on things for now. And while Susie was under anesthesia, Colburn took the opportunity to perform an abdominal ultrasound, draw some blood and clean her teeth, too.

As a zoo veterinarian, Colburn is the ultimate generalist, caring for more than 210 different species of animals. And while Jebson lauded Colburn’s breadth of knowledge, Colburn said he couldn’t be successful without occasional help from specialists like Jebson.

Story and photos available here. Check out the John Ball Zoo Facebook page here.



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Beth Cranson
Media Relations
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