Last year, we announced the extraordinary procedure that had saved one of our gorilla residents – a blood transfusion from Charlie to his critically-ill brother Curtis. Both recovered well, but that turned out to be just the beginning of Curtis’ health journey. Today, we share the heartbreaking news that 28-year-old Curtis was euthanized on Oct. 1 due to congestive heart failure.
Curtis and Charlie, both male Western lowland gorillas, arrived in Kansas City in March 2020. In February 2021, however, Curtis presented symptoms including vomiting, abdominal discomfort, lack of appetite, and lethargy. A CT scan revealed blood in his abdomen stemming from hemorrhage in his left kidney that was putting extreme pressure on the organ. As is often the case, the cause was unknown. It was determined that a blood transfusion was the only option.
Several months later, though, Curtis presented similar symptoms and it was determined that the only chance to save him was removal of the affected kidney. Charlie was again immobilized to provide blood to transfuse his brother. Without it, Curtis would certainly have died during the intricate 7-hour surgery. An incredible team of specialists assembled and the kidney was successfully removed. Following surgery, Curtis recovered slowly but surely, regaining his appetite and eventually, his playfulness. Throughout Curtis’ ordeal, he was under the dedicated care of the Zoo’s veterinary health team as well as the gorilla troop’s animal care specialists. In addition, local, national, and international medical and veterinary doctors consulted on the case, providing expertise, loaning medical equipment, and even helping to perform surgery.
Curtis won the hearts of everyone that met him with his easy-going and inquisitive nature. Even on days he didn’t feel his best, Curtis remained gentle and trusting of those trying to help him. While the entire Zoo family mourns, we take comfort knowing the groundbreaking care Curtis received will help many other animals. Curtis gave his illness a great fight and everything that was learned from his situation will be passed on to other facilities.