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Woodland Park Zoo's oldest gorilla recovering after exam for age-related concerns

At 49-years-old, Amanda is one of the oldest living gorillas in captivity in the United States.

Woodland Park Zoo's oldest gorilla is recovering after undergoing a thorough veterinary exam due to critical geriatric issues, according to zoo officials. 

At 49-years-old, Amanda is one of the oldest living gorillas in captivity in the United States. 

A team of local radiologists and ophthalmologists volunteered their time to examine the 213-pound gorilla. She underwent a battery of tests, including abdominal and cardiac ultrasounds, and diagnosis and treatment for visual issues, zoo officials said. 

Dr. Darin Collins, Woodland Park Zoo’s director of animal health, said the exam revealed age-related concerns.

"We are closer to explaining the drooping of the upper eyelid. An injury to the cranial nerve that raises the upper eyelid muscle appears to be the probable cause," said Collins. "Tests are being conducted to better define a diagnosis to determine if treatment options are even possible." 

Credit: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo
Amanda, Woodland Park Zoo's oldest gorilla at 49, is recovering from a veterinary exam to investigate critical geriatric issues. The western lowland gorilla will remain off public view.

The tests also revealed degenerative changes involving the heart and major vessels. "These findings may have an impact on cardiac function longer term," explained Collins. 

No other life-threatening concerns for Amanda were found during the exam, other than the geriatric related issues. Collins said her old age will require zoo staff to be prepared should any issues arise.

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Female gorillas can live into their 40s and 50s in zoos. In a natural setting, that age drops to 35 years. 

Amanda was raised at Toronto Zoo and has lived at Woodland Park Zoo since 1994. She has successfully raised three daughters, including Uzumma who is expecting her first baby in mid-March 2020.

“We’re pleased to report Amanda ate her entire breakfast today, a good sign of recovering. Our gorilla team will continue to shower her with a lot of extra love and be sure she remains comfortable,” said Nancy Hawkes, Ph.D., director of animal care at Woodland Park Zoo.

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