SAN DIEGO June 2018 – A San Diego Zoo koala diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes received a glucose monitor this month, allowing caretakers to better monitor his condition.
Quincy, a male koala at the San Diego Zoo, was diagnosed with the condition at the Los Angeles Zoo before being transferred to San Diego for treatment.
On June 1, San Diego Zoo experts came together to offer Quincy an alternative to being pricked for blood tests multiple times a day. A Dexcom G6 Continuous Glucose Monitoring System, the same system that shipped to human users earlier this month.
The device will provide real-time updates and alerts of Quincy’s blood glucose levels to caretakers who administer the koala’s insulin therapy.
“With a continuous glucose monitor, we may be able to monitor Quincy’s glucose levels throughout the day without having to disturb him,” said Cora Singleton, senior veterinarian at the San Diego Zoo. “We are hopeful that this technology will work as well in koalas as it does in people, thus allowing us to optimize his insulin therapy while promoting his welfare during his illness.”
Koalas are generally solitary animals and commonly sleep during the day. The monitor will cut back on the number of times per day zookeepers disturb Quincy for glucose checks.
It also helps zookeepers better administer care.
After he suffered a series of life-threatening hypoglycemic events, the zoo partnered with Dexcom to get him the newest continuous glucose monitoring device to help monitor his illness.
“Hypoglycemia—abnormally low blood sugar—is a safety concern, and the limiting factor to using the right doses of insulin, especially in an animal that can’t tell us their symptoms,” said Athena Philis-Tsimikas, corporate vice president of the Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute. “The continuous glucose monitoring now allows optimal dosing to best manage Quincy’s diabetes.”
Diabetes is rarely documented in koalas, according to the zoo, and experts do not know what may have triggered Quincy’s condition.