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How a Gerenuk Reunited Two Friends

Some people find the most interesting reasons to reunite. ​A gerenuk with an eye problem Gerenuk at Cameron Park Zoooffered Drs. Erin Scott and James Kusmierczyk their first opportunity to reunite since they graduated from Penn Vet in 2010. ​

Known as the giraffe gazelle,​ the gerenuk is a long-necked antelope found in the Horn of Africa and the African Great Lakes region.

When James Kusmierczyk, VMD’10, noticed a focal mass associated with the right eye of a female gerenuk at the Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, TX, where he works as veterinarian, he invited the Ophthalmology Service and Zoo, Exotics, and Wildlife Service from Texas A&M’s vet school to assist with a sedated ophthalmic examination.

Texas A&M’s Clinical Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology Erin Scott, VMD’10 examined the gerenuk’s eye and determined that the mass was not a tumor as initially suspected, but a staphyloma.

Staphylomas are focal regions of abnormally thinned sclera, the outer fibrous layer of the eye, that are lined by uveal tissue. They can appear as a tan, gray or blue mass covered by conjunctiva. In the gerenuk’s case, this likely occurred secondary to an unknown trauma and, luckily, treatment was not necessary.

James Kusmierczyk and Erin Scott at Cameron Park ZooDrs. Scott and Kusmierczyk reunited for the first time since graduation to evaluate the gerenuk with an ocular condition. As Penn Vet students, they were both active members of the Special Species Club there.

More about Dr. Scott:

Erin Scott, VMD, DACVO, completed a rotating internship in companion animal medicine and surgery at Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine, as well as a fellowship in comparative ocular pathology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Scott recently finished a residency in comparative ophthalmology at the University of Wisconsin. She is currently a Clinical Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at Texas A&M University. Dr. Scott enjoys the comparative nature of her specialty that allows her to examine the eyes of many different species, both domestic and exotic!

More about Dr. Kusmierczyk:
James  Kusmierczyk, VMD, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 2010. Afterwards, he carried out a rotating internship in small animal medicine and surgery at the Veterinary Medical Center of Long Island. He followed this with a zoological internship at Texas A & M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Kusmierczyk stayed on as a researcher at Texas A & M after his internship for an additional six months before starting as the first full time veterinarian for the Cameron Park Zoo in December 2012. Dr. Kusmierczyk loves the challenges of zoo medicine and enjoys the chance to consult with specialists like Dr. Scott on interesting cases.