Stories tagged animal health

Apr
07
2008

I'll order...: ...the salad please. Gorillas at U.S. zoos are facing an increased risk of heart problems. The cause may be diet related.
I'll order...: ...the salad please. Gorillas at U.S. zoos are facing an increased risk of heart problems. The cause may be diet related.Courtesy Raul654
While being a full-time blogger may be dangerous to your heart health (see below), being a male gorilla in a U.S. zoo may have even higher heart disease risks. An alarming number of healthy, middle-aged gorillas have been suddenly dropping dead with no health symptom warnings in recent years in U.S. zoos.

Considering there are 368 gorillas now living in captivity in 52 U.S. zoos right now, efforts have been increased to figure out what might be causing these increased heart risks to zoo gorillas.

Through the use of ultrasound exams, zoo veterinarians started out by trying to get a good handle on what constitutes a healthy gorilla heart. Then they compared those findings to what they the ultrasounds done on the heart’s the deceased gorillas. The major differences were the unhealthy gorillas had mildly enlarged hearts with thicker walls that weren’t pumping a lot of blood. All of the heart information on gorillas being held in captivity is now being put into a central data base.

Moving into a new phase, researchers are looking at diet to be a prime factor for declining gorilla heart health. Ironically, gorillas living in the wild don’t usually live as long as zoo gorillas, so there aren’t good comparisons to be made for what makes a proper diet for an older gorilla.

One key difference in diets between wild and captive lowland gorillas is that in the wild, gorillas often wade into swampy areas to eat water plants.

Among the plants they find there is Aframomum melegueta, part of the ginger plant family. It has the properties of being an antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and anti-inflammatory natural drug. And currently, it’s not part of the diet of captive gorillas.

Here's the full-report.