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Gorilla to undergo a general physical examination, including a cardiac work-up, at Franklin Park Zoo

Gorilla KitKitombe, a western lowland gorilla, will be put under anesthesia tomorrow at Franklin Park Zoo so the Zoo’s veterinary staff can examine him.

This is a routine physical exam for Kitombe, who is affectionately known as Kit. The examination will include a general physical examination, blood work and a cardiac exam. The results we receive from the cardiac exam will go into a national database to assist in diagnosing cardiac disease in other gorillas.

“Kit is 29 years old and he will be receiving a full cardiac work-up as is normal for gorillas his age. Cardiac disease is the biggest health issue affecting gorillas in captivity, which is one reason why this type of proactive, routine care is so important,” said Dr. Eric Baitchman, Zoo New England Director of Veterinary Services.

While Kit’s examination is considered routine preventative care, whenever anesthesia is administered there is always a risk to the animals and people involved in the procedure.

“Gorillas are wild animals and as such, pre-anesthetic evaluations as extensive as those that would routinely be done on people and domestic animals, are not possible,” said Baitchman. “Any animal immobilization involving general anesthesia always carries some risk. We never enter into these procedures lightly and every possible effort is made to keep the animal, as well as the people involved in the procedure, safe and healthy.”

A veterinary cardiologist as well as a cardiologist will both be on hand to assist during the procedure, which is expected to last two hours.

Learn more about western lowland gorillas in Franklin Park Zoo's Animals section.