The Cincinnati Zoo says one of it's Western lowland gorilla's has an incurable, malignant tumor in her nasal passage.
Surgeons examined and evaluated the mass in 27 year old Muke's left nasal passage on July 26th. Two otolaryngology surgeons from Cincinnati Head and Neck, Inc., two anesthesiologists from The Christ Hospital, two technicians from Xoran Technologies, Inc., and support staff from various institutions joined the Zoo Animal Health Care staff made up of three veterinarians and one veterinary technician. A CAT scan revealed the mass in Muke's nasal passage is a high grade aggressive malignancy that even in the best of treatment situations, with a cooperative and willing patient, would unlikely be curable.
"We are extremely grateful to the entire medical team for donating their time, expertise and equipment to help our very sick gorilla," said Dr. Mark Campbell, Director of Animal Health at the Cincinnati Zoo. "We are fortunate to have had such great support from the dental, medical and veterinary communities around the Cincinnati metropolitan area over the years to help us provide quality health care for all of our animals."
Following the surgery and recovery from anesthesia, Muke was returned to her two-year-old son, Bakari later that afternoon. Animal Health and Primate Center staff are closely watching Muke's appetite, behavior and quality of life and are focused on providing the best possible medical and supportive care for her and her son while she remains in the comfort of her family group.
Muke continues to be an excellent mother to Bakari and remains active. Keepers are conditioning Bakari, as they do with all newborn gorillas, to take whole milk from a bottle or cup and solid food in the event that the mother is unable to nurse. By the age of three, most gorillas are completely weaned.
"The day a baby gorilla is born they are 100% dependant on their mothers and families to care for them. They have a complex communication system and rules of gorilla etiquette to learn as they grow up, said Ron Evans, Cincinnati Zoo Primate Team Leader. "At two years old Bakari is well established in his group and has a great relationship with everyone. The other adults are very gentle with him and understand the proper way to behave around a youngster."
Muke was born September 5, 1981. Her father, Ramses and her mother was Amani are now at the Fort Worth Zoo in Texas. In addition to Bakari, Muke is a mother to two other gorillas Chewie and Cecil.
Western lowland gorillas are critically endangered in the wild, with less than 175,000 individuals.