[monkeywire] Dallas Zoo's Jake dies of encephalitis

Carrie McLaren carrie at stayfreemagazine.org
Tue Aug 6 13:39:53 EDT 2002

The Dallas Morning News
July 31, 2002, Wednesday SECOND EDITION

Popular gorilla Jake dies of encephalitis at city zoo


Jake, the Dallas Zoo's youngest gorilla and among its most popular 
attractions, died this week of encephalitis, zoo officials said 
The 4-year-old western lowland gorilla became ill about 10 days ago 
and was found to have inflammation of the brain. He died Monday 
morning at the zoo's A.H. Meadows Animal Health Care Facility. As the 
most active of the zoo's eight gorillas and the only one to have been 
born at the Oak Cliff facility, he was a favorite of visitors, zoo 
officials said.

"He was tremendously popular. He was a typical young gorilla, very 
rambunctious, very playful," said John Fried, primate supervisor. "He 
loved to make loud noises, and he loved to show off in front of a 

Uncharacteristic lethargy tipped off keepers that Jake was ailing.
As his condition worsened, he was taken from the gorilla exhibit 
Thursday and placed in the zoo's veterinary facility, where he was 
put under 24-hour medical watch.

Internal medical specialists from the University of Texas 
Southwestern Medical School at Dallas were called in to insert a 
feeding tube into Jake's stomach.

Dr. Tom Alvarado, the zoo's chief veterinarian, performed a necropsy 
Monday. That process should take several weeks, and until final 
results are known, zoo officials won't know for sure how Jake became 

Dr. Alvarado said the chances of transmission of whatever caused the 
encephalitis to zoo visitors was "very remote," because people are 
kept well away from the primates.

He said zoo employees and gorillas would be monitored for possible symptoms.

"My feeling is that if they were going to contract it, we would have 
seen some symptoms in the other gorillas by now," Dr. Alvarado said.
There are many kinds of encephalitis and many causes, although 
viruses cause most cases. West Nile virus, among the better-known 
triggers of encephalitis, has been ruled out as the cause of Jake's 
death, Dr. Alvarado said.

Jake was born Jan. 18, 1998, and raised by a troop that included his 
father, Fubo, 34, and Jenny, an unrelated female, who at 48 is 
believed to be the oldest captive female gorilla in North America.

Mr. Fried said Jenny and Fubo had shown signs of grief since the 
ailing Jake was moved to the hospital last week.

"They stopped eating and were clearly distressed," he said. "There is 
a definite grieving process among animals."

Jake's human keepers were also saddened, Mr. Fried said.

"There was a different feeling in the building today," he said. "To 
me, it was as close to a feeling of losing a member of my family that 
I've ever had."

Dallas Fire-Rescue grief counselors were available to assist zoo 
staff members and volunteers.

"For some of the keepers, it was pretty hard," zoo spokesman Pam 
Deutsch said. "They were around these animals every day."
E-mail dflick at dallasnews.com

GRAPHIC: PHOTO(S): Jake, a western lowland gorilla, became ill about 
10 days ago, zoo officials say.

Carrie McLaren
Editor, Stay Free!

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