The wound-healing ape and the hydrotherapy pig


The Denver Medical Times [August 1899 vol. XIX, no. 2, pp. 65-71] was the venue for James Weir Jr.’s compendium of observations on how animals treat themselves when afflicted by diseases.

Among the highlights:

  • Several safari travelers report that elephants shot by hunters may plug their wounds with moistened clay.
  • “In 1882 there was on exhibition at the St. Louis fairgrounds a magnificent specimen of the dog-faced ape, or chacma.” The chacma, what we would now call a baboon, injured himself on a nail. He immediately grabbed a pile of sawdust and pressed it to the cut until it stopped bleeding.
  • Pregnant lobsters afflicted by Histriobdella worms expose their egg clusters to the sun, so the sunlight can kill the parasites.
  • One of the author’s dogs, Toney, serves as doctor to other dogs by licking wounds that they can’t reach on their own bodies.
  • A sow had been diagnosed with peritonitis after being kicked by a mule, and was desperately trying to escape her pen. After her owner took pity on the doomed animal, she made a beeline for an iron-rich spring that had been fenced off.


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