RECUPERATING: Femae gorilla at LR Zoo.

Sad news from the Little Rock Zoo:


One of the Little Rock Zoo’s adult female gorillas, Catherine, experienced a stroke on August 12 leaving her right side paralyzed. Catherine was reintroduced to her outdoor habitat and her companion, Brutus, for the first time last Wednesday since experiencing the stroke.

“A stroke in a gorilla can be similar to a stroke in a human. With a stroke of this nature, we have to wait and see if there will be any further improvement in her function of the right side,” said Dr. Sara Stoneburg, Zoo Veterinarian. Radiology Associates, P.A. helped staff confirm an ischemic infarct in Catherine’s left cortex.  Zoo veterinary staff immediately started Catherine on cholesterol and blood thinning medication; Zoo animal keeper staff have started a modified motion physical therapy plan based on her past training. Catherine has regained some movement in her right leg but her right arm is still very flaccid. She has learned to compensate for her limitations and is able to climb easily.  Her appetite is good and Zoo staff say she seems eager to be outdoors and back with the male, Brutus, again.

As gorillas and other great apes age, heart disease is a common disease process that is seen; however, strokes are uncommon.  Just like humans, gorillas and other apes are susceptible to stroke. That is why the Little Rock Zoo is grateful that the human care experts at Radiology Associates, P.A., stepped in to assist with this amazing creature that is so closely related to us all.

Catherine is 37-years-old and came to the Little Rock Zoo from Toronto in 2004. She is currently located in the east yard with Brutus, a 42-year-old male who has been living at the Zoo since 1990. The Zoo’s other gorilla family reside in the adjacent yard.