Cardiovascular and Hepatic Disease in Wild Eastern Lowland Gorillas (Gorilla beringei graueri)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2014
Eddy Syaluha Kambale1, DVM; Jan C. Ramer1, DVM, DACZM; Kirsten Gilardi1, DVM, DACZM; Michael Cranfield1, DVM; Linda Lowenstine2, DVM, PhD, DACVP
1Gorilla Doctors, Wildlife Health Center, University of California, Davis, CA, USA; 2Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA, USA


Eastern lowland gorillas (Gorilla beringei graueri) are listed on the IUCN Red List as an endangered species. They are endemic to the forests of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and are thought to be decreasing in number. A very small population of habituated eastern lowland gorillas lives in an isolated forest remnant of Virunga National Park in eastern DRC. Another larger and more stable population of habituated eastern lowland gorillas inhabits Kahuzi Biega National Park in South Kivu province of DRC. All habituated gorillas in these populations are monitored for health, treated for life-threatening conditions, and postmortem examinations are performed by Gorilla Doctors when bodies are recovered. Although no clinical monitoring or intervention examinations have revealed clinical elements related to liver or cardiovascular disease, subclinical to significant hepatic disease was noted in 3/8 and cardiovascular disease in 6/8 postmortem examinations performed between 2008 and 2012. Heart disease was found in both geographically isolated populations.

Heart disease is well described in western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) in human care,1-5 and there is one case of heart disease reported in an eastern lowland gorilla who lived for years in the Houston Zoo (Clubb; personal communication). Etiology of heart disease in captive gorilla remains unclear. This is the first report of heart disease in wild eastern lowland gorillas.

Literature Cited

1.  Junge RE, LE Mezie, MC Muhlbauer, M Weber. Cardiovascular evaluation of lowland gorillas. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1998;212:413–415.

2.  Kenny DE, RC Cambre, TP Alvarado, et al. Aortic dissection: an important cardiovascular disease in captive gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). J Zoo Wildl Med. 1994;25:561–568.

3.  Loomis MR. Great apes. In: Fowler ME, RE Miller, eds. Zoo and Wild Animal Medicine. 5th ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2003:381–396.

4.  McManamon R, LJ Lowenstine. Cardiovascular disease in great apes. In: Fowler ME, RE Miller, eds. Zoo and Wild Animal Medicine. 5th ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2001:408–415.

5.  Murphy HW, I. Kutinsky. Preliminary results of the national gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) cardiac database. In: Proc Am Assoc Zoo Vet. 2005:161–164.


Speaker Information
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Eddy S. Kambale, DVM
Gorilla Doctors
Wildlife Health Center
University of California
Davis, CA, USA

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