Gorilla Doctors is the only organization in the world dedicated to saving the mountain and eastern lowland (Grauer’s) gorilla species one gorilla patient at a time using veterinary medicine and science with a One Health approach. Our international veterinary team provides hands-on medical care to ill and injured mountain and Grauer’s gorillas living in the national parks of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). With only 1,063 mountain gorillas, and an ever decreasing number of Grauer’s gorillas left in the world today, the health and well-being of every individual gorilla is vital to the species’ survival. Our veterinary team regularly monitors the health of mountain and Grauer’s gorillas and intervenes to treat individuals with life-threatening illness or injury whenever possible.

Our Proven Success

While still endangered, mountain gorillas are the only great ape species whose numbers in the wild are growing. A 2010 census of the entire population living in the Virunga Massif showed a remarkable population increase of 26.3% over the previous 7 years. A 2011 study* of this same population showed that over a 22-year period the number of habituated gorillas—about 70% of the overall population—increased by 4.1% annually while the number of unhabituated gorillas decreased by 0.7% annually. Habituated gorillas are gorillas that have learned to accept humans in close proximity. The difference in these growth rates was attributed to the fact that habituated gorillas benefited from “extreme conservation” practices such as veterinary care. In fact, the work of the Gorilla Doctors may be responsible for up to 40% of the difference between the growth rates of the two subpopulations.

The Gorilla Doctors
healthcare program includes:

Monitoring the health of mountain and Grauer’s gorillas to ensure the early detection of disease and injury.

Conducting veterinary interventions to treat ill gorillas with antibiotics or pain relievers, or to anesthetize and treat gorillas suffering from human-induced or life-threatening traumatic injuries.

Rescuing and providing veterinary care to gorillas orphaned by poachers.

Studying health trends to better predict disease outbreaks and their causes.

Conducting post-mortem examinations on deceased gorillas to learn all that we can about the health problems that contributed to their deaths.

Preserving biological samples (e.g. blood, feces) to be used by researchers around the world who are investigating primate health issues.

Providing preventative healthcare to the dedicated park personnel who protect the gorillas, and to the people and their animals that live near gorilla habitat, in order to reduce the risk of disease transmission to gorillas.

The work of Gorilla Doctors would not be possible without the collaboration of the wildlife authorities of the countries where mountain and Grauer’s gorillas live: the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), L’Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN), and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).