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Louisville Zoo gorilla, Jelani, in recovery following abdominal surgery

WAVE Louisville 9/29/2022 Dustin Vogt
The Louisville Zoo said silverback gorilla, Jelani, is now in recovery following a successful abdominal surgery last week. © Provided by WAVE Louisville The Louisville Zoo said silverback gorilla, Jelani, is now in recovery following a successful abdominal surgery last week.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The Louisville Zoo said silverback gorilla, Jelani, is now in recovery following a successful abdominal surgery last week.

Jelani, who is 25 years old, underwent surgery to remove an abdominal mass after the zoo recently discovered it through an examination.

The gorilla is well known for viral videos where he looks through his glass enclosure at zoo guests’ pictures and videos. Jelani would gesture to let guests know to scroll to the next photo or video.

The zoo said before the surgery, Jelani was suffering from lethargy, decreased eating habits and apparent weakness when climbing.

Jelani was sent to a local imaging facility for a CT scan, which suggested Jelani had a perforated intestine and a localized infection, a release stated.

Surgeons were able to isolate the mass and found it was attached to Jelani’s appendix, so an appendectomy was performed as well as the mass removal.

Staff with the zoo said the diagnosis was welcome news as a more severe form a surgery was not needed, leading to a speedier recovery for Jelani.

The Louisville Zoo thanked Baptist Health Louisville General Surgeon Richard Pokorny, MD, who performed the surgery, as well as Lindsey Arnold, MD, who partnered with Pokorny on the surgery, surgical technician Tisa Revels, surgical nurse Kara Barr, anesthesiologist Todd Patton, MD and Baptist Health President Larry Gray.

While in recovery, Jelani has been interacting with his favorite troopmate and fellow silverback gorilla, Bengati, through mesh. The zoo also said Jelani’s appetite has improved and his surgery site looks good.

“We are grateful for all of the human practitioners in our community who are willing to consult with us and, in some instances like this, to perform surgery on an animal in our care,” Louisville Zoo Senior Veterinarian Zoli Gyimesi, DVM said in a release. “Jelani is bright and alert and moving about normally. We will continue to closely monitor his progress and hope to have him back with other gorillas and on exhibit soon.”

The Louisville Zoo also said Helen, who also lives in Gorilla Forest and is the second oldest-known gorilla in the world, is currently being treated for age-related mobility issues. At the age of 64, the zoo said Helen is beyond the median age for a female gorilla in managed care.

Updates will continue to be provided on Jelani’s health through the zoo’s social media channels and on the zoo’s website.

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