Mosuba, a 19-year-old gorilla at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, calmly walked up to the grill separating him and his trainers, exposing his chest for an echocardiogram administered by Don Orton, a cardiac sonographer from Alegent Creighton Clinic. His reward for cooperating was peanuts from trainer Kristen Otterson.
Giving the tests while the gorillas are awake is desired because the readings can be off when the animals are sedated. So the zoo's 13 gorillas — three females and 10 males — have been or are being trained to get the tests while awake. They also aren't being forced to take the test and are able to walk away at any time while the test is administered.
The tests are important because heart disease is the leading killer of male gorillas in captivity. Six of the nine male gorillas in Omaha that have been tested have heart disease and are receiving medication.