6-year-old Calgary Zoo gorilla Kimani diagnosed with liver cancer

A member of the Calgary Zoo’s gorilla troop is being treated for an advanced form of liver cancer, officials announced in a social media post on Monday.

Staff noticed Kimani, a six-year-old western lowland gorilla, wasn’t acting like herself last week, with slowing activity level and decreased appetite.

She was anesthetized and brought to the animal health centre where she underwent a complete physical examination with blood work and urine tests, as well as radiographs and ultrasound.

Based on those findings, Kimani was then taken to Western Veterinary Specialists for an emergency CT scan of her abdomen and chest.

“Sadly over the weekend, after consultation with radiology and human liver specialists, we determined that Kimani has a very serious form of pediatric liver cancer that is affecting her entire liver and has spread to her lungs and the support tissue for her heart, esophagus, and blood vessels (known as the mediastinum),” officials said in a social media post.

“We are working closely with human and veterinary liver and cancer specialists to determine if there are any treatments available to help dear Kimani. We also have consulted with the gorilla SSP veterinarians for their advice on her unique case, and they have not seen liver cancer in a young gorilla of this age.”

Kimani remains in serious to critical condition and staff said the focus is on allowing her to stabilize.

“Although we are searching for all possible advice and options, the cancer is so far advanced that palliative care may be our only option,” read the update.

“The Rainforest and veterinary teams are keeping Kimani comfortable with her favourite foods and drinks, including fruits and vegetables, Pedialyte, dilute fruit teas, and protein smoothies.”

She is also on medication to help with nausea and other complications associated with advanced liver disease.

“While she is separated from the troop in her own ‘bedroom’ (ie. back-of-house area) to allow her to rest and receive special care, she has access to see and hear her gorilla family, who are spending time near her,” read the update.

“Please keep Kimani, the troop, their caregivers, and all those working so hard to help her in your thoughts.”

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