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Barney, a 28-year-old gorilla at Zoo Miami, undergoes medical exam after lingering cough

Veterinarians and medical specialists fear the 385-pound ape may be suffering from pneumonia

“Barney,” a 28 year old silverback Lowland Gorilla, undergoes exam at Zoo Miami. (Ron Magill/Zoo Miami, Courtesy of Ron Magill/Zoo Miami)

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – After Zoo Miami’s 385-pound gorilla named Barney developed a lingering cough, veterinarians and animal medical specialists from across Miami-Dade County teamed up to perform additional exams on the great ape. Now, there is concern he may have pneumonia.

According to Ron Magill, the Zoo Miami Communications Director, the 28-year-old silverback Lowland Gorilla underwent a series of exams on Tuesday as part of a preventative medicine program at Zoo Miami.

However, in addition to the normal procedures performed on him, which included blood collection, x-rays, and a general physical exam, the great ape was also examined by specialists with specific attention to respiratory and cardiac concerns.

Zoo Miami staff say Barney had developed a lingering cough that needed to be addressed by said specialists.

“Barney,” a 28 year old silverback Lowland Gorilla, undergoes exam at Zoo Miami. (Courtesy of Ron Magill/Zoo Miami)

On Tuesday, Zoo Miami Associate Veterinarian, Dr. Rodney Schnellbacher, who was the lead veterinarian throughout the procedure, was assisted by Chief of Animal Health, Dr. Gwen Myers, Associate veterinarian, Dr. Gaby Flacke, and the rest of the Animal Health team. Additionally, a medical student was present.

To address the cough, a human pulmonologist, Dr. Gregory Holt from the University of Miami, performed a bronchoscopy to see if anything unusual could be identified within Barney’s bronchi and lungs. Initial indications showed that Barney may be suffering from pneumonia. Therefore, cultures were then taken.

Now, the Animal Health team is awaiting those results for confirmation of the possible pneumonia.

Also in attendance was veterinary cardiologist, Dr. Dewey Carpenter, who performed an ultrasound examination of Barney’s heart.

“Barney,” a 28 year old silverback Lowland Gorilla, undergoes exam at Zoo Miami. (Courtesy of Ron Magill/Zoo Miami)

Adult male gorillas like Barney have been known to suffer from hypertension and heart disease, which Barney is receiving treatment for. This new exam was to assess his present condition to then evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment.

Although his blood pressure was normal, the cardiologist did find he had a slightly enlarged heart, but felt that it was within normal limits for a gorilla of his age.

In addition to the mentioned exams, Barney also received his rabies and tetanus vaccines as well as a tuberculosis test.

What a day for Barney!

Following the completion of the exams, Barney returned to his habitat and has since made a full recovery.

For more information about Zoo Miami, click here.