CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- A partnership between the University of Tennessee and the Chattanooga Zoo is giving students hands on experience. They're getting up close and personal with chimpanzees and wild cats.
Zoo Veterinarians and keepers a like know this is a thankless job. For the most part they say the animals have no idea they're getting help. But it's a job that has it's benefits, and more importantly needs to be done.
"Very few of our patients actually realize we're trying to help them. In fact most of our patients take it the opposite way they think we're not trying to help them," says Ed Ramsey, UT Professor.
Despite the cries for help, Ramsay and his team are doing all they can to help. They came down from Knoxville to give Chattanooga's chimps the complete check over. Physicals, TB tests and every type of blood work a chimp can need.
"They're not going to tell us if they feel bad or if they're sick. It allows us to check things early. We practice more of a preventative medicine, than instead of being on the back end of things," says Tony Ashley, Chattanooga Zoo Veterinarian.
Four chimps in one day. All in less than an hour. Professor Ramsay joked, saying they work faster than your everyday physician.
"We get animals in and out a lot faster than the average doctors office. If you need a hip replacement we can get you done this weekend, instead of scheduling you for June," said Ramsay.
All joking aside, Ramsay said his students rarely get to work this much in one day. It's a win win for the students and the zoo.
While yes it may be a thankless job, they say it's more than worth it.
It's gratifying because these animals are rare, a lot are endangered, it's a privilege to get to work with them, help them and help the species," said Ashley.
In addition to the four chimpanzee's, the students played the roll of dentist and gave Gene the jaguar a root canal.