Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Pneumonia strikes Columbus Zoo’s ape troop, killing one

A 15-year-old bonobo died Christmas Eve at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, the victim of a severe respiratory infection that has moved through the troop in the past week and a half.

Jerry Borin, executive director of the zoo, said a post-mortem examination showed that Mambo had pneumonia. A young female bonobo is being treated in the zoo hospital, and all the bonobos are being treated with antibiotics and extra fluids, he said.

Borin said he thinks that the infection is under control and that, so far, it has not spread to the zoo's other apes, including the gorillas and gibbons. The infection appears to be viral. The bonobos have shown flu symptoms such as coughing and runny noses, he said.

"Unfortunately, these guys can't tell you when they hurt," Borin said.

It's possible that the infection spread from humans to the apes, although the zoo won't know for sure until pathology reports are back.

All the great apes get flu shots annually.

Dr. Michael Barrie, director of animal health at the zoo, said the troop is making a strong recovery, including the one that is hospitalized.

The zoo is receiving assistance from Dr. Thomas Boes, a pulmonologist at Riverside Hospital, and Dr. Vicki Clyde, the veterinary species survival plan adviser for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Mambo came to the Columbus Zoo about three years ago for mating. His death leaves the zoo with 12 bonobos: six males and six females.

Story here.

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