Kansas City Zoo gorilla euthanized with congestive heart failure

The Kansas City Zoo is mourning the loss of one of its Western lowland gorillas – one in a pair of brothers that arrived at the zoo in 2020.Zoo officials said in a news release that 28-year-old gorilla Curtis had to be euthanized on Oct. 1 after a fight with congestive heart failure. Curtis and his brother, Charlie, arrived in Kansas City in March 2020. However, Curtis presented with symptoms of a concerning illness in February 2021. Curtis was vomiting, showing abdominal discomfort, had a lack of appetite and was lethargic.A CT scan at a local facility revealed blood in his abdomen from a hemorrhage in his left kidney. “This combination was causing a life-threatening condition that is also seen in humans,” zoo officials said in a release. “Often, as it was in this case, the cause is unknown.”Zoo officials said treatment for this illness in gorillas isn’t as clear-cut as it is for humans. In this case, the decision was made to anesthetize Curtis’s brother Charlie, who was able to donate just under a half-gallon of blood to be used in a transfusion for Curtis. Curtis was also given medication to contain the hemorrhage, increase blood production, and to keep him from becoming infected. Officials said the brothers recovered well, and even when the troop of gorillas contracted COVID-19, all recovered uneventfully with supportive care.Then, several months later, Curtis again started showing similar symptoms. Veterinary staff determined the only way to save him was to perform a nephrectomy – removing the affected kidney.Again, Curtis’ brother Charlie was able to provide blood to transfuse his brother. Officials said without it, Curtis would have “certainly died” during the seven-hour surgery. “An incredible team of specialists assembled in less than 48 hours and the affected kidney was successfully removed. It was found to be 3-4 times the size of a normal gorilla kidney and there was no doubt that it had to be removed,” officials said in a release. “Following surgery, Curtis recovered slowly but surely, regaining his appetite and eventually, his playfulness.”Officials said local, national and international medical and veterinary doctors consulted on the case to help Curtis, and his care specialists said he won the hearts of everyone who met him. “He was beloved for his easy-going and inquisitive nature,” officials said. “Even on days he didn’t feel his best, Curtis remained gentle and trusting of those trying to help him, and he always had a ‘happy grumble’ for his visitors.”Officials added that Curtis excelled at training, and his favorite form of enrichment was painting. “He would very deliberately pick his colors, which almost always included green,” officials said. Although, his love of green did not extend to peas. Despite being a good eater, his caretakers said Curtis detested peas and would deliberately flick the pods away.”While the entire Zoo family mourns the loss of Curtis, we take comfort knowing that not only was he an extraordinary gorilla, but the groundbreaking care that he received at the Kansas City Zoo will help many other animals in the future,” officials said.The zoo added that to its knowledge, Curtis was the first great ape to have had two blood transfusions and to live with only one kidney. Officials said Curtis gave his illness a great fight and will be dearly missed by his zoo family.

The Kansas City Zoo is mourning the loss of one of its Western lowland gorillas – one in a pair of brothers that arrived at the zoo in 2020.

Zoo officials said in a news release that 28-year-old gorilla Curtis had to be euthanized on Oct. 1 after a fight with congestive heart failure.

Curtis and his brother, Charlie, arrived in Kansas City in March 2020. However, Curtis presented with symptoms of a concerning illness in February 2021. Curtis was vomiting, showing abdominal discomfort, had a lack of appetite and was lethargic.

A CT scan at a local facility revealed blood in his abdomen from a hemorrhage in his left kidney.

“This combination was causing a life-threatening condition that is also seen in humans,” zoo officials said in a release. “Often, as it was in this case, the cause is unknown.”

Zoo officials said treatment for this illness in gorillas isn’t as clear-cut as it is for humans. In this case, the decision was made to anesthetize Curtis’s brother Charlie, who was able to donate just under a half-gallon of blood to be used in a transfusion for Curtis. Curtis was also given medication to contain the hemorrhage, increase blood production, and to keep him from becoming infected.

Officials said the brothers recovered well, and even when the troop of gorillas contracted COVID-19, all recovered uneventfully with supportive care.

Then, several months later, Curtis again started showing similar symptoms. Veterinary staff determined the only way to save him was to perform a nephrectomy – removing the affected kidney.

Again, Curtis’ brother Charlie was able to provide blood to transfuse his brother. Officials said without it, Curtis would have “certainly died” during the seven-hour surgery.

“An incredible team of specialists assembled in less than 48 hours and the affected kidney was successfully removed. It was found to be 3-4 times the size of a normal gorilla kidney and there was no doubt that it had to be removed,” officials said in a release. “Following surgery, Curtis recovered slowly but surely, regaining his appetite and eventually, his playfulness.”

Officials said local, national and international medical and veterinary doctors consulted on the case to help Curtis, and his care specialists said he won the hearts of everyone who met him.

“He was beloved for his easy-going and inquisitive nature,” officials said. “Even on days he didn’t feel his best, Curtis remained gentle and trusting of those trying to help him, and he always had a ‘happy grumble’ for his visitors.”

Officials added that Curtis excelled at training, and his favorite form of enrichment was painting.

“He would very deliberately pick his colors, which almost always included green,” officials said. Although, his love of green did not extend to peas. Despite being a good eater, his caretakers said Curtis detested peas and would deliberately flick the pods away.

“While the entire Zoo family mourns the loss of Curtis, we take comfort knowing that not only was he an extraordinary gorilla, but the groundbreaking care that he received at the Kansas City Zoo will help many other animals in the future,” officials said.

The zoo added that to its knowledge, Curtis was the first great ape to have had two blood transfusions and to live with only one kidney.

Officials said Curtis gave his illness a great fight and will be dearly missed by his zoo family.

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