Zoo Gorillas Receive Good Reports

Communications Director

Eric Vreeland
evreeland@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-3480

400 Main St., Room 654A
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Zoo Gorillas Receive Good Reports

Posted: 06/17/2009
Knoxville Zoo's gorillas underwent their annual cardiac assessments in May, and all three received good reports from the team of veterinarians and cardiologists who conducted the exams. Ernie, Kwashi, and Bantu, the three male Western lowland gorillas who reside at the zoo, are immobilized for thorough check-ups each year, since male lowland gorillas are susceptible to cardiac disease. Ernie and Kwashi have both been diagnosed with mild heart disease and are being treated with medical therapy. This was the first cardiac assessment for Bantu, the youngest gorilla living at Knoxville Zoo. 

"Bantu's heart is fine, very normal," says Dr. Ed Ramsay, professor of veterinary medicine at The University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine (UTCVM) and one of the vets who routinely cares for the gorillas. "Kwashi and Ernie are doing fine, and their exams indicate their hearts are in as good or better shape than last year's examination." Dr. Rebecca Gomf, UTCVM's cardiologist, and Dr. Alfred Beasley, MD, Director of Graduate Medical Education at UT Graduate School of Medicine, were also present for the cardiac analysis. "We are also sending the results to the Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP) Cardiac Advisory Team for their opinion," says Dr. Ramsay.

In addition to the cardiac assessments, each gorilla was weighed; Ernie weighs 470 pounds, Bantu weighs 326 pounds, and Kwashi weighs 309 pounds. Kwashi also needed some minor dental work that was attended to by dentist Dr. Ashley Sullivan.

Knoxville Zoo would like to extend special thanks to Dr. Gompf, Dr. Beasley and Dr. Sullivan, who generously donated their time and expertise to assist with the exams. The zoo would also like to thank Contract Health for providing medical equipment and a technician to help with the assessments.

Knoxville Zoo is located off exit 392 from Interstate 40 and is open every day except Christmas Day.The zoo is nationally accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is committed tothe highest standards in animal care and well-being, ethics, conservation, and education. Currently, thezoo is open everyday from 9:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Admission and ticket sales stop one-hour before thezoo closes. Next-day admission is free after 3:00 p.m. For more information, please call 865-637-5331ext. 300 or visit www.knoxville-zoo.org