|June 17, 2009 -
Knoxville Zoo’s gorillas underwent their annual cardiac assessments
in May, and all three received good reports from the team of veterinarians and cardiologists who
conducted the exams. Ernie, Kwashi, and Bantu, the three male Western lowland gorillas who
reside at the zoo, are immobilized for thorough check-ups each year, since male lowland
gorillas are susceptible to cardiac disease. Ernie and Kwashi have both been diagnosed with
mild heart disease and are being treated with medical therapy. This was the first cardiac
assessment for Bantu, the youngest gorilla living at Knoxville Zoo.
“Bantu’s heart is fine, very normal,” says Dr. Ed Ramsay, professor of veterinary medicine at The
University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine (UTCVM) and one of the vets who
routinely cares for the gorillas. “Kwashi and Ernie are doing fine, and their exams indicate their
hearts are in as good or better shape than last year’s examination.” Dr. Rebecca Gomf, UTCVM’s
cardiologist, and Dr. Alfred Beasley, MD, Director of Graduate Medical Education at UT Graduate
School of Medicine, were also present for the cardiac analysis. “We are also sending the results to
the Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP) Cardiac Advisory Team for their opinion,” says Dr. Ramsay.
In addition to the cardiac assessments, each gorilla was weighed; Ernie weighs 470 pounds,
Bantu weighs 326 pounds, and Kwashi weighs 309 pounds. Kwashi also needed some minor
dental work that was attended to by dentist Dr. Ashley Sullivan.
Knoxville Zoo would like to extend special thanks to Dr. Gompf, Dr. Beasley and
who generously donated their time and expertise to assist with the exams. The zoo would also
like to thank Contract Health for providing medical equipment and a technician to help with the
Knoxville Zoo is located off exit 392 from Interstate 40 and is open every day except Christmas Day.
The zoo is nationally accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is committed to
the highest standards in animal care and well-being, ethics, conservation, and education. Currently, the
zoo is open everyday from 9:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Admission and ticket sales stop one-hour before the
zoo closes. Next-day admission is free after 3:00 p.m. For more information, please call 865-637-5331
ext. 300 or visit www.knoxville-zoo.org