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Nurses care for baby orangutan

A group of NICU nurses spent three months caring for an extremely rare patient — a baby orangutan from Zoo Atlanta.

Baby Sandar was born March 30 at Zoo Atlanta. While Sandar was a welcome addition to the zoo’s population of endangered primates, he weighed less than 1 kg at birth and wouldn’t nurse. Zookeepers intervened in an effort to save his life.

The staff veterinarians knew the animal needed special care, and called the nurses at the neonatal intensive care unit at Children’s Healthcare Atlanta. The nurses helped the staff determine what size feeding tube would be most appropriate for Sandar. They also donated countless hours to care for the young primate.

The nurses received specialized training, but also drew upon their nursing knowledge. Chrys Fields, RNC, BSN told the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “We took what we knew, changed it up a bit and adapted. That’s what nurses do — we flex.”

Sandar’s condition ultimately worsened, despite his round-the-clock care, and he was euthanized July 1. The nurses say they learned a lot from their special patient. “Caring for [Sandar] brought us back to the basics of nursing,” Fields told the Journal Constitution, “and reminded us why we do what we do.”

Has a unique patient affected your nursing career?


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Jennifer Fink, RN, BSN

Jennifer is a professional freelance writer with over eight years experience as a hospital nurse. She has clinical experience in adult health, including med-surg, geriatrics and transplant; she also has a particular interest in women’s health and cancer care. Jennifer has written a variety of health and parenting articles for national publications.

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One Response to Nurses care for baby orangutan

  1. Thank you so much to all the nurses who helped care for Baby Sandar during his brief life. {:(|}

    Orangutans are critically endangered in the wild because of rapid deforestation and the expansion of palm oil plantations into their rainforest home. If nothing is done to protect them, these amazing creatures will be extinct in the wild in a few years.

    Visit the Orangutan Outreach website to learn more!

    Orangutan Outreach
    Reach out and save the orangutans!
    Adopt an orangutan today!
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