Chimp Haven Primate Benefits from Willis-Knighton Surgeon’s Expertise

May 10, 2023

Ghali E. Ghali, DDS, MD, made a house call recently to Keithville’s Chimp Haven, the world’s largest chimpanzee sanctuary. Sparky, a 34-year-old male chimpanzee, had sustained a mandibular fracture that required surgery to stabilize and repair.

Veterinarians who specialize in the type of procedure Sparky required are not readily accessible in the Shreveport area. Thus, Chimp Haven staff called Dr. Ghali, renowned oral and maxillofacial surgeon with WK Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Institute, because of his expertise and experience performing such surgeries on chimpanzees.

Although this injury likely resulted from an altercation with other chimps, Sparky remains a popular chimpanzee within his social group and is often observed engaging in affiliative behaviors with others, Chimp Haven staff said. The surgery, which is very similar to surgery on humans, took about 30 minutes and resulted in the chimp losing two of his permanent teeth. 

Sparky’s procedure is the third surgery that Dr. Ghali and his team has performed at Chimp Haven. “I continue to be impressed by the facility and the dedication of the Chimp Haven staff and personnel in taking care of these primates,” Dr. Ghali said.

DaShaunte Coleman, DVM, Chimp Haven clinical veterinarian, said the professional relationship and consultations with Dr. Ghali stems from the organization’s commitment to best practices and providing a standard of care that, at times, requires advanced and specialized treatment for the sanctuary residents.

“We are both fortunate and thankful that when the necessity for veterinary care and human medicine reaches a crossing point, we have access to renowned surgeons such as Dr. Ghali,” Dr. Coleman said. She applauded his willingness to step outside the usual boundaries of his practice to “provide services to a species, the chimpanzee, that has contributed so much to medicine as a whole.”


Those involved in the recent surgery of Sparky, a 34-year-old primate at Chimp Haven were: Zachary Pippin (from left), assistant veterinary technician; Jennifer Whitfield, veterinary technician supervisor; DaShaunte Coleman, DVM, clinical veterinarian; Dr. Ghali Ghali, DDS, MD; Ross Brockman, DMD, MD, and Doug Edwards, DMD, both Fellows in craniomaxillofacial surgery; and Trey Saulters, of KLS Martin Group.