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An Inside Look at the Heart of Gorilla Health

For Immediate Release: June 9, 2022

Medical Partnerships Enhance Care of Animals

[Columbia, SC] – Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is advancing the specialized care of exotic animals through medical partnerships that enhance the well-being of many species that live at Riverbanks, including the western lowland gorillas.

Riverbanks consults with a wide network of medical and veterinary specialists who help provide extraordinary care to the Zoo’s more than 2,000 animals. Riverbanks first partnered with medical experts from South Carolina Veterinary Specialists and Emergency Care in 2016 after 32-year-old male gorilla Patrick showed unexpected weight gain. Local veterinary health specialists continue to work alongside the Zoo’s veterinary team to perform routine cardiac and physical exams on Patrick for optimal health.

Dr. Dan Hall of Palmetto Veterinary Cardiology and locally based Internal Medicine specialists Dr. Tristan Weinkle and Dr. Corinne Goldman assisted Riverbanks’ veterinarians with Patrick’s most recent physical in May.

“Partnerships with veterinary and medical specialists are a critical part of the animal care program at Riverbanks,” said Dr. Martha Weber, director of animal health at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. “These relationships bring with them cutting-edge technologies and knowledge that help ensure our animals live longer, healthier lives.”

Weber adds that heart disease is common in gorillas and regular cardiac monitoring is essential. “We are happy to say that Patrick’s most recent exam shows that he continues to be in good health.”

As an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Riverbanks provides the highest standards in veterinary medicine. The Zoo is among nearly 240 AZA-accredited facilities that are dedicated to the advancement of wildlife conservation, education, science, and recreation.