Glady's Porter Zoo mourns the loss of beloved gorilla
Glady's Porter Zoo announced the death of Penney the gorilla. She died on May 19 of a suspected cardio-respiratory failure, according to a news release. Penny would've turned 37 years old this year.
Penney was born on November 8th, 1986 at the zoo. She was the offspring of Lamydoc and Katanga.
During her adult life, Penney gave birth to two healthy offspring, Samantha, who was born in 2006 and now resides at the Albuquerque Zoo; and, Sally, who is the youngest member of the Zoo’s troop, according to the release.
In 2005, Penney was evaluated for infertility issues. It was discovered that she had a mass on her pituitary gland and was thereafter treated for eight months with a drug to reduce her production of the hormone prolactin. A subsequent MRI revealed that the size of the mass on her pituitary had decreased.
Recently keepers had noted that, despite having a good appetite, she was looking less robust than normal. Plans were made to anesthetize her for a full diagnostic evaluation this week. However, on May 18, she seemed unsteady, and the decision was made to expedite her workup, according to the release.
She was anesthetized in the morning, blood was drawn, an EKG was conducted, x-rays were taken and urine and stool were collected. However, the samples that were evaluated in-house failed to raise any red flags.
Wendy James Aldridge, the Zoo's Curator of Research, Deborah Carboni, DVM and other staff members kept watch over her through the night after her workup. She adjusted her position several times and looked as though she was sleeping peacefully. At daylight, she didn't rouse and died shortly thereafter, according to the release.
Upon necropsy, it was determined that she had fluid around her heart. Her left ventricle was firm and constricted. In addition, there seemed to be a loss of structural detail in her left kidney. It was determined that she possibly succumbed from cardio-respiratory failure and secondary renal failure. Tissue samples have been sent out for a complete histopathology to get a full picture of what caused the rapid decline in her health, according to the release.
“Working with living creatures can be very rewarding, but also deeply saddening at times,” said Dr. Pat Burchfield, the Zoo’s Executive Director. “Our staff care deeply for all the animals at the Zoo, and we consider them part of our extended families.”
As recently as June 2022, all the Zoo's adult gorillas were thoroughly evaluated by a veterinarian with the Great Ape Heart Project. At that time, findings on her urinary tract and cardiac status did not indicate any issues other than age-related changes, according to the release.
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