Bwindi’s Habinyanja group loses orphan TweheyoBy Gorilla Doctors Staff on Thursday, December 22nd, 2016 in Blog.
Tweheyo had been orphaned since October 2015 after the disappearance of his mother Elsa. Since then he had been cared for by his father, silverback Makara. In February of this year, Gorilla Doctors noted that the infant had a very distended belly and had difficulty moving as a result of the swollen abdomen. He looked malnourished, dehydrated, and emaciated, and would whimper frequently. Makara was very protective of Tweheyo and aggressive whenever veterinarians tried to approach the infant for observation.
Fortunately, the health of Tweheyo, was steadily improving; as of September of this year, while the infant had an enlarged belly, its condition was an improvement from what was noted in previous health checks.
Unfortunately, despite these positive signs, Dr. Fred found Tweheyo dead on November 16, 2016 following reports from trackers that the infant had been lagging behind the group the previous day.
A postmortem was performed and major findings were a very large number of tapeworms in the intestines, emaciation, and pale mucous membranes. It appears likely that Tweheyo’s health had declined over time in part due to the lack of maternal care and proper feeding for an infant of such a young age. As a result, Tweheyo’s immunity probably became compromised due to a combination of heavy parasite loads and early forced weaning.
This was a sad loss for the Habinyanja group, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, and Gorilla Doctors But as always, we learn a tremendous amount of information about the health of mountain gorillas even when we examine gorilla carcasses.