Measurement of Blood Pressure in Awake Western Lowland Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2011
Sam Rivera, DVM, DABVP (Avian); Jodi Carrigan, BS; Hayley Murphy, DVM


Cardiac disease is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in captive western lowland gorillas.1 The etiology of this disease remains a mystery. In humans, hypertension is an important contributor to cardiac disease and blood pressure measurements are crucial in monitoring disease and response to treatment. However, hypertension has not been clearly defined in any great ape species. Blood pressure is routinely measured in anesthetized gorillas, but to date, measurement in awake gorillas has been difficult. A device has been designed to hold a blood pressure cuff capable of obtaining accurate blood pressure measurements in awake gorillas. The design consists of a protective casing for a blood pressure cuff incorporated within an extension into a training sleeve. Validation testing was used in order to verify that the design functions properly and meets the user needs. This set up has allowed for the measurement of blood pressure in the forearm of awake gorillas, improving both the accuracy and early detection of hypertension in captive gorillas. The purpose of this presentation is to discuss the blood pressure sleeve design and training steps involved in desensitizing gorillas to the device and share preliminary findings from Zoo Atlanta.


The authors would like to thank Nisha Bhatia, Stephanie Drewicz, Scott Seaman, David Sotto, in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, for their capstone course work to develop the device which assists in blood pressure measurement.

Literature Cited

1.  Meehan TP, Lowenstine LJ. Causes of mortality in captive lowland gorillas: a survey of the SSP population. In: Proceedings from the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Annual Meeting. 1994:216–218.


Speaker Information
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Sam Rivera, DVM, DABVP (Avian)

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