Cleveland Metroparks Zoo closer to solution for gorilla heart disease epidemic (video)

Heart disease affects more than 45% of zoo housed apes, the Cleveland Zoo is leading the nation in research to reverse that trend.
Heart disease affects more than 45% of zoo housed apes, the Cleveland Zoo is leading the nation in research to reverse that trend.
High fiber diets and leafy greens may be the solution to high rates of heart disease among zoo housed apes.
High fiber diets and leafy greens may be the solution to high rates of heart disease among zoo housed apes.

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Gorillas in captivity are dying from heart disease at a rate that can't be explained currently.

While heart disease is almost nonexistent in wild gorillas estimates vary from 45 to 70 percent for zoo housed gorillas.

Kristen Lukas, director of conservation science at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, wants to be part of the solution.

"We look at their diets here at the Cleveland Zoo, we look at them and look how to provide them with the best possible care," Lukas said.

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is leading the science by studying Mokolo, a 30-year-old male gorilla who currently suffers from heart disease. His diet changed by cutting out simple starches and replacing them with leafy greens.

Besides diet changes, the zoo is leading the nation in promoting the welfare of gorillas by being an advocate for conservation.

"Zoos of today are focusing on conservation, so one of the things we really want to do is have exhibits that exhibit animals in a very positive manner." Executive director at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Dr. Chris Kuhar said. "We want people come and be inspired by the animals."

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