Pathology and diseases of great apes at the National Zoological Park

Linda Munson, Richard J. Montali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Knowledge of the diseases of great apes in captivity is essential for captive management of self‐sustaining populations. This survey of medical and pathology records of orangutans, gorillas, and one chimpanzee at the National Zoological Park was conducted to provide a data base for improving health care of captive apes. Strongyloidiasis, balantidiasis, and entamoebiasis were recurrent problems in adult and juvenile apes of all species. Cardiac fibrosis also was prevalent in middle‐aged apes and was a major cause of mortality. Bacterial infections were prevalent in perinatal orangutans and resulted in the death of two. For gorillas, rheumatoid arthritis associated with mycoplasma infections, and infertility were major problems. Because the pathogenesis of many of these lesions is unknown, survival of great ape populations in captivity may depend on future research on these problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-105
Number of pages7
JournalZoo Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • arthritis
  • cardiac disease
  • gorilla
  • infertility
  • Orangutan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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