Preliminary Data on the Management of Cardiac Disease in Western Lowland Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2010
Julia E. Napier1, DVM; Ilana Kutinsky2, DO; Donald Orton3, RDCS; Douglas L. Armstrong1, DVM
1Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE, USA; 2Michigan Heart Group, Troy, MI, USA; 3Creighton Cardiac Center, Omaha, NE, USA


Cardiac disease is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in male gorillas. Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo has 14 western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) ages 1–36 years. Twenty-eight echocardiograms have been performed on 10.2 gorillas. No animals exhibited clinical signs when echocardiograms were initiated. Following review of the first echocardiograms by the gorilla cardiac database cardiologist, three males with varying cardiac abnormalities were started on graduating levels of a beta/alpha one adrenergic blocker and an ace inhibitor, respectively. Maintenance doses achieved were: carvedilol phosphate (Coreg CR, GlaxoSmithKline, Research Triangle Park, NC; 120 mg PO, SID) and lisinopril (West-Ward Pharmaceuticals Corp., Eatontown, NJ; 60 mg PO, SID). On recheck echocardiograms 18 months later, all three males showed noticeable improvement in cardiac function. Two more males were started on the same protocol. Subsequently, two of the original three males had clinical episodes. A 15-year-old male developed a productive cough and was treated successfully over 11 days with reducing doses of furosemide (Lasix, Sanofi-Aventis U.S., Bridgewater, NJ; 80 mg to 20 mg, PO, SID). A 13-year-old male became lethargic and lost a significant amount of weight. In addition to the beta blocker and ace inhibitor, this animal now receives digoxin (West-Ward Pharmaceuticals Corp.; 0.375 mg PO, SID) and aspirin (Major Pharmaceuticals, Livonia, MI; 325 mg PO, SID). Currently, all gorillas are clinically normal. Echocardiograms will continue every 18 months unless otherwise indicated.


The authors would like to thank the Creighton Cardiac Center for the generous donation of their time and use of their equipment, Dan Houser, Christine DuPre and the rest of the great ape animal care staff and the veterinary interns and technicians for their participation and support in this study.


Speaker Information
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Julia E. Napier, DVM
Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo
Omaha, NE, USA

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