Blog: Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare

Nora Gorilla Receives Care at the Zoo's Hospital

Brookfield Zoo Animal Hospital with Nora Gorilla and Dr. Mike Adkesson

Earlier this year my young daughter had a bad case of pneumonia. Treatment was rough. The liquid medication she needed tasted bad and we had to squirt it in her mouth twice a day.  She also had to be on aerosolized medication from a nebulizer (‘breathing treatments’) and any parent can tell you how hard it is to make a two year old sit still for 15 minutes, especially when they feel sick.  After a few days of treatment though, she was feeling much better and back to her rambunctious self.
Over the past couple weeks, I’ve relived this scenario again, but this time with a much more challenging patient.
Nora, the zoo’s 19-month-old gorilla infant, recently became ill with a very serious case of pneumonia.  Apes are so closely related to people that they can be susceptible to many of the same illnesses that can make us sick.  In this case, the pneumonia was due a Steptococcal infection, similar to what causes “strep throat” in people.  Nora’s mother Koola is a fantastic animal who readily cooperates with staff for many medical and care needs.  However, her maternal instincts to protect her sick infant made it impossible for us to intervene with the level of intensive medical care that Nora required to get better. 

Dr. Mike Adkesson examines Nora Gorilla

Following a medical exam and CT scan of her lungs, our veterinary care team realized we had no choice but to move Nora to the zoo’s animal hospital for intensive treatment.  Much like my own daughter, Nora received antibiotics and aerosolized medications, as well as much supportive care.  A small feeding tube was used to provide her formula while she transitioned onto a bottle (just like a human infant in a neonatal intensive care unit).  Our amazing animal care staff (and a large stuffed animal) took over the role of mom for Koola, staying at Nora’s side 24 hours a day for several weeks while Nora regained her health.  This week we had the enormous joy of reintroducing Nora back to her mom and the rest of our gorilla troop.
Dr. Mike Adkesson
Vice President, Clinical Medicine

Posted: 6/26/2015 1:46:57 PM by Filed under: animal care, animal hospital, Dr. Mike Adkesson, Nora Gorilla

Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare

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