Zoo tests a gorilla's blood pressure for the first time

gorillaWashington, Nov 11 : Zoo Atlanta conducted the world's first ever blood pressure (BP) test on Ozzie, a 150-kg 48-year-old male gorilla.

This breakthrough was made possible by the Gorilla Tough Cuff, a BP reading system devised in partnership with the bio-medical engineering department at Georgia Tech and Emory University.

Ozzie's accomplishment is the result of months of patience and diligent voluntary positive reinforcement training on the part of Zoo Atlanta's Primate Team.

Designed by biomedical engineering undergraduates David Sotto, Stephanie Drewicz, Scott Seaman and others, the prototype was successfully tested on Ozzie, one of Zoo Atlanta's 22 western lowland gorillas.

The students were guided by Hanjoong Jo, professor of biomedical engineering and Franklin Bost, professor of design.

"Zoo Atlanta is home to the nation's largest collection of gorillas, so there is an ongoing responsibility to contribute to the zoological community's understanding of their care," said Dennis Kelly, president and CEO.

"We are proud to have spearheaded an effort that will ultimately benefit gorillas living in captive settings around the world."

The Gorilla Tough Cuff operates in the same manner as the mechanism familiar to humans, with the patient slipping an arm into a cuff, says a Georgia Tech release.

As the cuff inflates, the BP reading is measured and displayed on a monitor. The biggest set of challenges, however, was constructing a comfortable cuff large enough to fit an adult male gorilla weighing more than 150 kg.

"We also built a safety mechanism into the device so that the gorillas would not be injured if they became alarmed or frightened and tried to remove their arm from the cuff," said Sotto.

The device could prove invaluable to the more than 100 institutions around the world currently housing the species. (ians)

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