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Gorilla Dies during Heart Surgery at Washington Zoo

Kuja, a 23-year-old western lowland gorilla died at Washington's National Zoo on Saturday while undergoing surgery //for heart disease.

This animal was one of Washington zoo's two adult male western lowland gorillas. These gorillas are an endangered species native to the tropical rain forests of western and central Africa.

Veterinarians from the University of Alabama and Auburn University had tried to implant an electronic cardiac device into Kuja to help his ailing heart.

On June 20, the gorilla had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure. When surgery began on Saturday morning Kuja was in congestive heart failure. Therefore, the animal's heart was not able to distribute blood properly throughout his body and as a result fluid was building up in his lungs.

Western lowland gorillas, now considered to be an endangered species are known for their brownish-gray coat and auburn crest. These animals generally live into their 30s although a few have survived into their 40s and 50s in captivity. Gorillas in captivity are often diagnosed with heart disease and this is often a major contributory factor of their death.

Kuja was born in the Memphis Zoo in 1983 and has fathered two male gorillas aged 4 and 6. He arrived at the Smithsonian Institution's National Zoo in 1985 as part of a breeding program aimed at preserving the species.v The Washington National Zoo has six other western lowland gorillas.


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