Gorillas at Cleveland Zoo have heart disease along with many others at U.S. zoos

Cleveland Zoo's gorillas Mokolo, 20, and Bebac, 23, were examined at the zoo's veterinary hospital by echocardiogram and were found to have left ventricular hypertrophy and congestive heart failure (CHF), respectively.

According to the Cleveland Zoo press release:

"The zoo is participating in a national study of gorilla health, after previous research found that gorillas in captivity are prone to heart disease.

Mokolo's left side of his heart is enlarged. Bebac's heart is more enlarged, shows impairment and doesn't pump as efficiently as it should, he said.

The gorillas will be placed on beta blockers or ACE inhibitors, drugs familiar to people with high blood pressure and heart disease."

Animals die of heart disease juts like humans do. A 176-year-old tortoise, believed to had been owned by Charles Darwin, died MI and CHF in 2006.

I have a video of Mokolo below and, as you can see, he is the silverback (the boss) in the group of the 2 gorillas at the zoo.


Silverback Gorilla at Cleveland Zoo

Some studies show that depression may lead to worse outcomes in CHF and CAD. If we assume that the older Bebac was somewhat depressed by his inferior status, this could explain his worse cardiovascular condition (past MI?).

References:
Gorillas Undergo Cardiac Exams at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Cleveland Zoo.
Cleveland zoo's gorillas have heart disease. The Plain Dealer.
Local and National Coverage of Gorilla Project. The Roar Report.

Related:
Do Gorillas have Personalities? Cleveland Zoo Blog, 08/2008.
176-year-old turtle once owned by Darwin dies of MI and CHF
Image source: Winter Visit to the Cleveland Zoo
Has anyone ever seen a photo of a happy captive gorilla? Flickr.

Updated: 09/22/2008

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