News Release
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,
June 29, 2017
NOTE: Images of Ramar at Brookfield Zoo may be downloaded below:

Gorilla-Procedure_5049.jpg (caption: Chicago Zoological Society veterinary staff prepare Ramar, a 49-year-old western lowland gorilla at Brookfield Zoo, to undergo two procedures to address age-related periodontal disease affecting several of his molars and degenerative arthritis in his knees.)
Gorilla-Procedure_5228.jpg (caption: Chicago Zoological Society veterinarians work in Brookfield Zoo’s Animal Hospital with consultants from MK Orthopaedics and River Heights Veterinary Hospital to simultaneously address age-related periodontal disease and degenerative arthritis affecting Ramar, a 49-year-old western lowland gorilla.)
Gorilla-Procedure_5268.jpg (caption: Board-certified veterinary dentist Dr. Stephen Juriga (left) of River Heights Veterinary Hospital works on Ramar, a 49-year-old western lowland gorilla at Brookfield Zoo who has periodontal disease affecting several of his molars.)
Gorilla-Procedure_5286.jpg (caption: Orthopedic surgeon Mukund Komanduri, MD, FAAOS, CIME (left) from MK Orthopaedics and Michael Adkesson, DVM, DACZM, DECZM (center), vice president of clinical medicine for the Chicago Zoological Society, view a monitor as they perform an arthroscopic examination on Ramar, Brookfield Zoo’s 49-year-old western lowland gorilla who has age-related degenerative arthritis in his knees.)
Oldest Animal at Brookfield Zoo Receives Successful Dental and Orthopedic Procedures
49-Year-Old Western Lowland Gorilla Is Experiencing Same Ailments as Elderly People
Brookfield, Ill. – Due to advancements in medicine, animals in professional care are living longer and experiencing many of the same age-related ailments that elderly humans do. The veterinary staff of the Chicago Zoological Society (CZS) conducts routine preventive examinations to carefully monitor the welfare of all the animals at Brookfield Zoo, particularly those that are older and affected by geriatric health conditions.
In March, during a regular examination on Ramar—the zoo’s 49-year-old western lowland gorilla and the oldest animal at Brookfield Zoo—veterinarians noticed mild periodontal disease affecting several of his molars, prompting the need for follow-up dental care. They decided to take the opportunity to also address age-related degenerative arthritis affecting the aging gorilla’s knees. For several years, Ramar has been receiving Celebrex and Lyrica (the same pain relievers people are prescribed) to help keep him comfortable. 
“Keeping Ramar and all of our animals comfortable and active during the golden years of their lives is of great emphasis for our team,” said Dr. Michael Adkesson, vice president of clinical medicine for the Society. “With the high level of professional care found in zoos today, animals live longer and can develop age-related conditions their wild counterparts would not be able to survive.”
On June 29, a board-certified veterinary dentist and an orthopedic surgeon joined the Society’s team of clinical veterinarians to assist with the two procedures. Dr. Stephen Juriga of River Heights Veterinary Hospital assisted in treating Ramar’s periodontal disease. At the same time, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Mukund Komanduri from MK Orthopaedics aided the Society’s veterinarians in performing an arthroscopic examination of the great ape’s knees.  This minimally invasive procedure allowed debridement (tissue removal) of meniscal and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears along with reduction of synovitis (inflammation) associated with the arthritis. Following the exam, Ramar received in each knee an injection of a synthetic joint lubricant and platelet rich plasma, both of which are shown to improve comfort in people with similar arthritis issues. 
“We are grateful for the assistance provided today by Drs. Juriga and Komanduri, as well as the support of Arthrex in providing the equipment to make this procedure possible,” said Adkesson. “Similar to the care provided to an elderly person with degenerative arthritis, our goal is keep Ramar active and comfortable. Today’s care will provide immediate and significant benefits.”
Ramar is not only Brookfield Zoo’s oldest animal, he is also one of the oldest western lowland gorillas in the population in North American zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. He quickly became a favorite among guests after arriving at Brookfield Zoo on a breeding loan in October 1998 at age 30. During his years as the dominant male of the zoo’s gorilla group, Ramar sired three offspring: a son (Nadaya) in 2001 with Baraka, a daughter (Kamba) in 2004 with Koola, and another son (Bakari) in 2005 with Binti Jua.
Ramar’s longevity attests to the excellent professional veterinary and husbandry care he has received at Brookfield Zoo. He even participates in his own health care. Animal care staff have taught him a wide repertoire of behaviors, including presenting various body parts (shoulder, arm, hand, foot, open mouth, etc.) for treatment and for physical therapy.
Western lowland gorillas are listed as “critically endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List. Those interested in helping care for these animals at Brookfield Zoo can contribute to the Share the Care program. For $35, a recipient will receive the Basic Package, which includes a 5-inch x 7-inch color photograph and fact sheet about the species, a personalized adoption certificate, a Share the Care car decal, and an invitation to the annual Share the Care Evening. For further information, visit
Brookfield Zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield. Admission to the zoo is $19.85 for adults and $14.50 for children 3 to 11 and seniors 65 and over. Children 2 and under are admitted free. Parking is $12.
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About the Chicago Zoological Society
The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by connecting people with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. Open every day of the year, the zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and is also accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA, and PACE bus service. For further information, visit


Sondra Katzen
Media Relations Manager
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


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