Gorilla Demba Gets a Health Checkup

At the Zoo, some of our most outstanding animal care happens behind the scenes with the Animal Health Care staff. Geriatric gorilla Demba was diagnosed with endocarditis in 2013 with the help of outside local health specialists like Dr. Joe Lash, a cardiologist. Infections of the heart valve are rarely diagnosed in non-human primates and usually result in a poor outcome.

Since then, Demba has had seven great years thanks to the excellent care provided by our team. Recently, Gorilla Forest keeper staff observed that Demba had a change in her eating habits, so our hospital team decided to examine her again with the help of additional outside specialists.

Photo of Demba and fruit "cake" on her birthday.

Photo: Demba at her 50th birthday celebration.

During Demba’s last exam on August 3, 2020, it was found that her heart function had deteriorated. Due to top notch care, our team was able to quickly identify the most recent issue and ensure that she is comfortable. Demba is best known for her interest in younger children that visit the Zoo. She recently turned 50 on July 10. The average lifespan for gorillas in the remnant wild is 35-40 years.

To learn more about Demba and our other gorillas visit these links: