He didn’t fit the usual patient profile. He was larger, furrier, and much less talkative. Nonetheless, it was mostly standard operating procedure for Fubo the gorilla as he lay on the examination table in the MRI van that recently stopped by the Bronx Zoo.
The 42-year-old silverback was in for a brain scan, after suffering a seizure that prompted the Wildlife Conservation Society’s health and curatorial staff to seek out a neurological diagnosis.
One of two adult males living at the zoo’s Congo Gorilla Forest, Fubo is part of the largest breeding groups of western lowland gorillas in North America, which includes more than 20 individuals.
The on-site neurological procedure—performed by a team of wildlife veterinarians, zookeepers, and medical personnel from several institutions—was made possible by the Bobby Murcer Mobile MRI Unit. Fubo was sedated for the two-hour exam, snugly placed into the MRI’s magnetic tube for scans, then returned to Congo Gorilla Forest as planned. The Brain Tumor Foundation provided the services to WCS free of charge.
The MRI images were interpreted by staff of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and reviewed with WCS’s Global Health Program staff. The team deduced that the gorilla’s condition resulted from a lesion in the left temporal lobe of his brain; the specific cause of the problem has not yet been determined. Veterinary staff concluded that the condition is not operable, so they will continue to treat Fubo with seizure medication.
Dr. Paul Calle, director of the WCS Zoological Health Program and a participant in the MRI procedure, said the exam furthered the knowledge of veterinary health care for gorillas. He thanked the Brain Tumor Foundation for their generous services. “It was a great opportunity to enlist the most progressive technology for the diagnosis of people with similar problems to our close relative, the endangered gorilla,” he said.
The Brain Tumor Foundation’s Mobile Unit recently embarked on the “Road to Early Detection,” a national campaign to promote the early detection of brain tumors. The Unit travels throughout New York City offering free brain scans, and reaches out to those who lack healthcare. The unit is named after Bobby Murcer, the baseball player and broadcaster who was an advocate for the foundation’s campaign. Murcer succumbed to a brain tumor in July 2008.