Sports medicine specialists tend to Seattle zoo gorilla Jumoke

The animal's leg wounds, sustained in a scuffle, required a medical exam.

Concussions, ACL tears, and knee cartilage damage are among the common injuries the UW Medicine sports medicine and head physician of University of Washington’s football team diagnoses and treats. Over the weekend, Dr. Kim Harmon brought her sports medicine expertise to help diagnose an injured gorilla at Woodland Park Zoo.

The zoo called Harmon and other medical specialists to examine Jumoke (juh-MOH-kee), a 32-year-old, female gorilla born and raised at the zoo. The 275-pound western lowland gorilla sustained leg wounds during a scuffle with a young female gorilla in her group.

Martin Ramirez, Woodland Park Zoo’s mammal curator, said gorillas are generally calm animals, but scuffles are not uncommon, especially younger gorillas challenging older gorillas.

Jumoke was examined at the zoo’s veterinary hospital. Radiographs diagnosed a fracture of the tibia, one of two bones in the lower leg. Harmon was joined by Dr. Albert Gee, a UW Medicine orthopedic surgeon, and Dr. Alex Aguila from the Animal Surgical Clinic of Seattle. The bone fracture is already showing signs of healing; no surgical fracture repair was attempted but Jumoke is receiving antibiotic and pain medications.

“This type of fracture in a human is typical of a blunt force impact and should heal if a bone infection does not complicate the healing,” Harmon said.

The gorilla also will undergo physical rehabilitation therapy to help her fully recover from her injury. Non-weight bearing exercises that maintain the normal range of motion of the leg joints will return the gorilla to normal function.  

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