The on-site procedure—performed by dozens of wildlife veterinarians, zookeepers, and medical personnel from several institutions—was made possible by the Bobby Murcer Mobile MRI Unit, a 48-foot-long MRI facility on wheels that conducted a comprehensive neurological scan on the brain of Fubo, a 42-year-old western lowland gorilla. Fubo is one of two adult males, or silverbacks, living in the Bronx Zoo's Congo Gorilla Forest exhibit, which houses one of the largest breeding groups of western lowland gorillas in North America (more than 20 individuals). Fubo recently suffered a seizure, prompting WCS health and curatorial staff to seek out a neurological diagnosis.
The Brain Tumor Foundation responded to WCS's request for assistance with Fubo by sending its mobile MRI facility and staff to the Bronx Zoo's campus, free of charge. The gorilla was sedated for the two-hour procedure, placed into the MRI's magnetic tube for the scans (a snug fit for a patient with gorilla-sized shoulders), and returned to the Congo Gorilla Forest as planned. Under strict protocol, the MRI Unit was cleaned and sanitized after the procedure.
The MRI images were interpreted by staff of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and reviewed with WCS's Global Health Program staff. The findings indicated that Fubo's condition was caused by a lesion in the left temporal lobe of his brain. The specific cause of the problem has not yet been determined. Veterinary staff has concluded that Fubo's condition is not treatable with surgery, so they will continue to treat the gorilla with medication in an effort to control his seizures and other clinical signs.
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