Morbidity and Mortality of Endangered Free-Ranging Golden Monkeys (Cercopithecus mitis kandti) in Rwanda
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2015
Dawn M. Zimmerman1, DVM, MS; Jean Felix Kinani2, DVM, MS; Jean Bosco Noheri2, DVM; Elisabeth Nyirakaragire3; Antoine Mudakikwa3, DVM; Methode Bahizi2, DVM; Jennifer Sohl2; Jan Ramer5, DVM, DACZM; Kirsten Gilardi4, DVM; Linda J. Lowenstine4, DVM, PhD, DACVP; Mike Cranfield2,4, DVM
1Honolulu Zoo, Honolulu, HI, USA; 2Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, Inc., Baltimore, MD, USA; 3Rwanda Development Board, Kigali, Rwanda; 4School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA, USA; 5The Wilds, Cumberland, OH, USA


The golden monkey (Cercopithecus mitis kandti), found in just a few small forests of Central Africa, is classified as Endangered by the IUCN with its population decreasing in number.1 Little data has been published on this subspecies. Between 2002 and 2014, 36 golden monkeys underwent various degrees of health assessment by the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project. All were located within the Rwandan region of the Virunga Massif, in or around the Volcanoes National Park or Gishwati Forest. Of the 36 golden monkeys assessed, there was a predominance of adults (29/36) and males (29/36), attributed to the social structure of the species. Most antemortem health assessments were performed during snare removal or relocations under anesthesia with medetomidine/ketamine (average dose 0.033/4.64 mg/kg), dexmedetomidine/ketamine (average dose 0.022/3.91 mg/kg), or ketamine alone (average dose 8.32 mg/kg). Parasitology examination revealed trichuriasis, cestodiasis, and non-pathogenic nematodiasis (predominantly strongyloidiasis). Hematology and biochemistry values of golden monkeys assessed to be healthy were consistent with ISIS reference ranges2 for their close relative the blue monkey (Cercopithecus mitis stuhlmanni). Serology indicated exposure to viruses similar to Epstein-Barr virus (9/9), hepatitis A virus (8/9), adenovirus (7/9), chimpanzee cytomegalovirus (6/9), Simian foamy virus (5/9), influenza A (3/9), and Simian T-cell leukemia virus (2/9). Causes of death included trauma (16/23), neoplasia (4/23) of which three were lymphoma,3 gastrointestinal inflammatory disease (2/23), and infectious disease (1/23). Baseline parameters and disease susceptibility from this study are useful data for captive Cercopithecus (guenon) species as well as understanding disease distribution in the Virunga Massif ecosystem.


The authors acknowledge the contributions to these cases by Dr. Lucy Spelman, Dr. Felicia Nutter, and Dr. Chris Whittier. We are also grateful to the trackers and law enforcement staff of the Rwanda Development Board and the Fossey Fund.

Literature Cited

1.  Butynski TM. Cercopithecus mitis ssp. kandti. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. 2013. Cited 2014 March 4. Available from:

2.  International Species Inventory System References Ranges for Physiological Values in Captive Wildlife. [CD-ROM]. Eagan, MN: International Species Inventory System; c2013.

3.  Lowenstine LJ, Whittier CA, Luff J, Nutter F, Rwego I, Cranfield M. Large cell anaplastic B-cell lymphoma, plasma cell myeloma and other causes of mortality in golden monkeys (Cercopithecus mitis kandti) from the Virunga volcanoes. In: Proceedings from the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians. 2007:18.


Speaker Information
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Dawn M. Zimmerman, DVM, MS
Honolulu Zoo
Honolulu, HI, USA

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