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Bunji radioigraph

Captured prior to the procedure, this radiograph reveals the extent of Bunji’s injury.

Bunji the two-year-old red kangaroo received some extra TLC following damage to his right forelimb. During the keepers’ daily morning check-in on July 6, it was apparent that Bunji had broken one or more of his bones. We’re not sure how he managed to sustain this injury.

He was brought to the Harris Animal Care Center (HACC) for radiographs that revealed a fractured radius and ulna, which are the forearm bones in humans. It was clear that a cast would not be enough to ensure proper healing and surgery was necessary.

Before we could begin, we had to remove the hair from the affected limb; this turned out to be much easier said than done! Kangaroos have notoriously short, soft fur that—while pleasant to the touch—does not shave easily. Veterinary technician Kristi spent about 30 minutes on this task alone!

The procedure, which took place on July 11, was led by veterinary surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Christiansen. Once Bunji was anesthetized, Dr. Christiansen carefully screwed in a plate to hold the radius together while it healed; this also served as a splint for the ulna.


Bunji incision

Dr. Christiansen makes an incision.

Dr. Christiansen took two additional steps to hasten Bunji’s recovery. The first was extracting bone marrow from further up the forelimb and packing it around the surgery site. The second was an innovative treatment known as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy; this involves using the patient’s own PRP to create a medicine that wards off infection and encourages faster healing of the bone, muscle and skin.

After nearly two months of recovery in the HACC, Bunji was returned to the Kangaroo Walkabout in Lands of Change: Australia and Beyond. His arm is still a little swollen, but he’s doing well and seems happy to be reunited with the mob!

We are grateful to Veterinary Orthopedic Implants for donating the plate and VetStem Biopharma for creating Bunji’s PRP medicine.