Cardiac Evaluation in Western Lowland Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla): Comparative Assessment of B-Type Natriuretic Peptides From Urine, Capillary Serum, and Venous Serum Samples
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2019
Taylor J. Yaw1,2, DVM, CertAqV; Frances M. Moore3, DVM, DACVP; Kurt K. Sladky1, MS, DVM, DACZM, DECZM (Herpetology); Marietta D. Danforth4, BS, PhD; Hayley W. Murphy4, DVM; Victoria L. Clyde2, DVM
1Department of Surgical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA; 2Department of Animal Health, Milwaukee County Zoo, Milwaukee, WI, USA; 3Veterinary Services, Marshfield Labs, Marshfield, WI, USA; 4Great Ape Heart Project, Zoo Atlanta, Atlanta, GA, USA


Cardiac disease is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in great apes, including Western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla).2 Antemortem detection of cardiac disease can be difficult due to the lack of definitive clinical signs prior to acute death, and detection currently relies on advanced diagnostics requiring anesthesia in gorillas with unknown cardiac status.1 The development and application of biochemical markers, which are capable of detecting and staging cardiac disease, without the animal undergoing general anesthesia, are warranted. In this study, amino-terminal pro B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) was measured in capillary serum, urine, and venous serum samples from Western lowland gorillas (n=26) during routine immobilizations (n=28) involving seven zoological facilities. Capillary serum samples were collected via a vacuum collection system (Comedo Suction Microdermabrasion Machine, KRASR, Mississauga, ON, Canada and Innovac Quick-Draw, Innovative Med Tech, Leawood, KS, USA) after application of a lancet (Feather Blood Lancet, GF Health Products Incorporated, Atlanta, GA, USA) to the lateral aspect of the first pelvic limb digit, while urine samples were collected via cystotomy, urethral catheterization, or free catch within 24 h of the immobilization event. In addition, validation of NT-proBNP recovery from gorilla urine was performed as part of this study. Capillary serum and urine NT-proBNP levels were tested for correlation with venous serum samples and with echocardiographic diagnosis when available. The results of this study provide a novel strategy for capillary blood collection in Western lowland gorillas, and will improve standards for the diagnosis and management of gorillas with cardiac disease in captive collections.


The authors thank the medical care teams at the following institutes for their participation in this project: Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, Zoo Atlanta, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Dallas Zoo, Houston Zoo, Milwaukee County Zoo, and the Saint Louis Zoo.

Literature Cited

1.  Murphy HW, Dennis P, Devlin W, Meehan T, Kutinsky I. Echocardiographic parameters of captive western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). J Zoo Wildl Med. 2011;42(4):572–579.

2.  Strong VJ, Martin M, Redrobe S, White K, Baiker K. A retrospective review of great ape cardiovascular disease epidemiology and pathology. Int Zoo Yearb. 2018;52(1):113–125.


Speaker Information
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Taylor J. Yaw, DVM, CertAqV
Department of Surgical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine
University of Wisconsin
Madison, WI, USA

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