Physical and Social Aspects of Long-Term Recovery in a Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) With a Presumptive Cerebrovascular Accident
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2007
Rebecca Bloch1, DVM; Kay Backues1, DVM, DACZM; John Cattaneo2, MD
1Tulsa Zoo and Living Museum, Tulsa, OK, USA; 2Department of Neurology, St. John Medical Hospital, Tulsa, OK, USA


While cardiovascular disease has been indicated as an important cause of disease in chimpanzees, the incidence of stroke or cerebrovascular accident is less well documented.1 In this case, a 36-year-old chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) presented with acute onset of left hind limb paresis that progressed to left sided paralysis within 24 hours. Complete blood count, chemistry, and computed tomography (CT) failed to indicate a definitive cause for the clinical signs. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was not available at the time. A presumptive diagnosis of cerebrovascular accident was made. Prompt medical treatment was initiated and the animal was started on aspirin and a tapering dose of prednisone. In accordance with human guidelines, aspirin therapy was continued long-term, while oral contraceptives were discontinued.2,3

Gross motor movement did not return in the 8-weeks’ time frame offered by another case report,4 however, steady improvement was observed over the 6 months following onset of clinical signs. Physical therapy has been encouraged by stimulation from the keepers using operant conditioning. Ropes and other materials have been used to facilitate movement in enclosures. Gradual reintroduction to other members of the troop has allowed for resumption of group participation. The individual care of this animal provided by the keeper staff was an important factor in the successful outcome of this case. The continued dedication and persistence of the keepers in encouraging movement and adapting to the needs of a handicapped animal have made reintroduction and rehabilitation possible. This case offers an example of long-term recovery from a presumptive cerebrovascular accident.

Literature Cited

1.  Gamble KC, North MCK, Backues K, Ross SR. Pathologic review of the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes): 1990–2003. In: Proceedings of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians. 2004:565–570.

2.  Goldstein LB, Adams R, Alberts MJ, Appel LJ, Brass LM, Bushnell CD, et al. Primary prevention of ischemic stroke: a guideline from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Council. Circulation. 2006;113:873–923.

3.  Sacco RL, Adams R, Albers G, Alberts MJ, Benavente O, Furie K, et al. Guidelines for prevention of stroke in patients with ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack. Stroke. 2006;37:577–617.

4.  Fish PH, Carpenter JW, Kraft S. Diagnosis and treatment of a cerebral infarct in a chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes). J Zoo Wildl Med. 2004;35:203–207.


Speaker Information
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Rebecca Bloch, DVM
Tulsa Zoo and Living Museum
Tulsa, OK, USA

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