NOTE TO MEDIA: In order to allow Misha time to recover she can not be seen at this time. Photos of Misha, pre- and post surgery, and video footage of her with human caregivers prior to this injury are available upon request. To learn more about Misha and the surrogacy process please visit the Columbus Zoo’s YouTube page at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73QsFd_bucE.
Powell, OH – Misha (MEE-sha), the infant gorilla who came to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium after losing part of a leg at less than two months of age is once again recovering from surgery after partially dislocating a hip.
Misha came to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium from the Louisville Zoo on May 24. She was receiving 24/7 care from Columbus Zoo and Aquarium experts who were raising the infant next to other gorillas while identifying a surrogate mom to integrate her into a Columbus Zoo gorilla family.
On August 23 Misha was placed in an off-exhibit habitat with Pongi (PON-jee), a 46-year-old non-reproductive female who had bonded with Misha and has been the surrogate mother to another gorilla infant. Zoo staff continued to observe Misha and Pongi while providing Misha with supplemental feedings including bottles of formula given through the protective mesh.
On August 28 Misha was exploring the habitat when her uninjured leg became stuck in a climbing structure. Without the use of her other leg she was unable to easily remove herself from feeling caught and vocalized in distress. Pongi quickly responded and in removing her from the structure caused injury to Misha’s hip.
This morning advanced imaging of the hip was performed at The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center and based upon the results Misha was taken to surgery. The dislocated hip was repaired and a cast applied. The team of specialists included Nationwide Children’s Hospital pediatric orthopedic surgeons Dr. Kevin Klingele and Dr. Walter Samora, veterinary orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jonathan Dyce from the Ohio State Veterinary Medical Center, and Columbus Zoo veterinarians Dr. Michael Barrie, Dr. Gwen Myers and Dr. Holly Peters.
Misha will once again be provided round the clock care by her human caregivers during a recovery period of a minimum of four weeks. As before, she will spend her time next to the other gorillas including surrogate mom Pongi. Her prognosis is excellent and after she heals she will once again join Pongi and eventually the other members of a gorilla family.
Misha was born at the Louisville Zoo on February 6. On April 1, there was an interaction within her family group consisting of her mother, father and another adult female that resulted in Misha losing part of her left leg and breaking a bone near her left hip. Hand rearing Misha was necessary to aid and speed her recovery following her injury.
With the goal to get Misha back into a gorilla family, Louisville Zoo animal care staff consulted with the nation’s leading gorilla experts and decided to relocate Misha to the Columbus Zoo since her mother didn’t have surrogacy history or training that would provide the best possible care for her. The gorilla program at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is internationally recognized for caring for gorillas in social groups including the placement of young gorillas with surrogate mothers to become integral members of a family group. Surrogates are taught to not only care for their baby like their own but also to bring the baby over to staff when prompted for bottle feedings, medication and regular check-ups.
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has been a pioneer of the gorilla surrogacy program for more than 25 years. Eight of Columbus Zoo’s gorillas have been raised in the surrogacy program and an additional six have been sent from other zoos.
There are about 850 gorillas in zoos worldwide including 359 in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan. There are 16 gorillas at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
Habitat loss and deforestation have historically been the primary cause for declining populations of Africa’s great apes, but experts now agree that the illegal commercial bushmeat trade has surpassed habitat loss as the primary threat to ape populations. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium supports numerous conservation projects including the Bushmeat Crisis Task Force, the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance and the Human-Wildlife Conflict Collaboration. In 1991 the Columbus Zoo founded Partners in Conservation to conduct conservation and humanitarian programs benefiting both wildlife and people in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC.) Over the past five years the Columbus Zoo and Partners in Conservation has distributed more than $3.8 million in conservation grants worldwide.
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is open 363 days of the year. General admission is $12.99 for adults, $7.99 for children ages 2 to 9 and seniors 60+. Children under 2 and Columbus Zoo members are free. The Zoo was named the #1 Zoo in America by USA Travel Guide and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA.) For more information and to purchase advance Zoo admission tickets, visit www.columbuszoo.org.
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