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Studies on the Pathology of Gorillas

By: , Posted on: June 10, 2015

WDA newsletter Jan 2015

Members of the Africa Middle East (AME) Section of the Wildlife Disease Association (WDA) may be interested to know about an ongoing project on the pathology of gorillas (Gorilla gorilla and G. beringei).

The available information on gorilla pathology is scattered and disparate. Much of it relates to only the one species, G. gorilla, and this is largely based on studies in zoos. Relatively few data are from free-living gorillas, and these tend to be limited in scope because of the difficulties of necropsy and sampling under field conditions. Further-more, there is a marked variation in the training and background of those doing such work and some of their findings are published (in various languages) in scientific journals, theses and books, while others re-main unpublished.

Despite the relative paucity of reliable information on the pathology of gorillas, there are opportunities to learn more. Collecting and collating the available data (see above) is one route. The other is to make better use of the tissues from gorillas available in museums and else-where in many parts of the world. The most prevalent material is skeletal (in museums) but zoos and, in Africa, primate centres and sanctuaries should be a good source of histological samples and archived necropsy reports.

The need to bring together information about gorilla pathology and the whereabouts of reference material has led to the signing of a Contract with Elsevier Inc., the American-based publishing company, to produce a book and an accompanying catalogue (GPR). The publication is provisionally entitled Gorilla Pathology: With a Catalogue of Archival Biological Material and will be published under Elsevier’s Academic Press imprint. The book will be a monograph on the pathology of gorillas and its relevant implications for their health, both in the wild and in captivity. It is aimed at primatologists, veterinarians, comparative pathologists, biologists, osteologists and conservationists.

WDA newsletter Jan 2015a

The Catalogue of Archival Biological Material is largely the responsibility of Gordon Hull who is updating his existing list of Gorilla specimens; at present this comprises more than 4,600 specimens in 424 institutions, chiefly museums and university departments, in 47 countries, but it is expected to grow to more than 5,000 specimens by the time of publication. The final catalogue will include information about the whereabouts of skulls, skeletons and skins, fluid-preserved specimens, casts, histological sections and relevant paraffin blocks, cytological preparations, blood smears, material prepared for transmission (TEM) or scanning (SEM) electron-microscopy, samples for DNA and for toxicological and virological studies, radiographs, ultrasonographs and other images and clinical, post-mortem and laboratory records.

WDA newsletter Jan 2015c

The book and catalogue will be prepared by John Cooper and Gordon Hull (pictured), with contributions by Margaret Cooper and by colleagues in Africa.

Colleagues are encouraged to contact me if they have any comments or suggestions about the project or might be able to assist us in any way, including the sharing of data, in the production of the publication. All contributions will be acknowledged.

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About the Author

John E. Cooper trained as a veterinary surgeon and is now a specialist pathologist with particular interests in wildlife and exotic species, tropical diseases and comparative medicine. Dr. Cooper has lived and worked for over 15 years overseas, in Africa, Arabia and the Caribbean. His time in Britain/Europe has been spent primarily in the fields of comparative medicine, wildlife and veterinary care of “exotic” species. He graduated in veterinary science at Bristol University, UK, in 1966 and gained an MRCVS. His postgraduate training and qualifications are in tropical veterinary medicine (DTVM), avian medicine and pathology (FRCVS), comparative pathology (FRCPath, Dip.ECVP) and biology (FSB, C.Biol).

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Plant & Animal Sciences

The science of living things holds a special fascination for human beings, as we strive to understand our place in the seemingly endless array of life on our planet. Research into agricultural and plant science, ecology, animal science and behavior, aquatic and marine science, organismal biology, entomology, and evolution continues to shape both our technology and our fundamental knowledge of ourselves. Elsevier’s foundational and leading-edge content in these areas — including award-winning encyclopedias of fish physiology, animal behavior, and insects — continues to enhance scientific comprehension of the living systems we depend on.