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The same digestive tract bacterial infection that has forced the removal of gorillas and orangutans from their public habitats at the ABQ BioPark Zoo, is apparently responsible for the death Monday of Brian, a 32 year old siamang.
Brian began showing symptoms of illness over the weekend and zoo veterinarians and staff immediately began treating him, said BioPark spokesman Greg Jackson. Brian and the other siamangs were removed from public display for treatment and monitoring in their indoor space.
“We are simply heartbroken to lose such a beloved member of our zoo family,” ABQ BioPark Director Stephanie Stowell said in a statement Tuesday. “Brian was a great dad and we are going to miss his morning vocal duets with Johore. This is a sad day for our BioPark team.”
Veterinary staff remain most concerned about Hasani, a 17 year old male western lowland gorilla, who is in critical condition, and Huerfanita, a geriatric 48 year old female gorilla, who is displaying moderate symptoms.
Born at the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois, Brian came to the ABQ BioPark Zoo in 2003. He was mate to 30 year old Johore, with whom he had five offspring and sired seven in all. In June, he and Johore became parents to the zoo’s newest siamang, female Rue.
With the death of Brian, the zoo’s complement of siamangs stands at three, including Rue’s 4 year old brother Eerie.
Brian had something of a checkered past at the zoo. In January 2015, he forced his way through a mesh barrier and entered an adjacent exhibit, where he attacked lemur brothers Junior and Buddy. The lemurs suffered bites to their tails and hindquarters. Junior subsequently died from his injuries.
Siamangs are native to the tropical rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia and are the largest of about 18 kinds of gibbons. They are classified as an endangered species.
On Aug. 8, Kojo, a male western lowland gorilla at the BioPark Zoo began showing symptoms of shigellosis, a gastrointestinal illness caused by the shigella bacteria. The illness quickly cleared with treatment. Shortly after, Rubi, a female orangutan began displaying similar symptoms, followed by gorilla Hasani.
The affected gorillas, orangutans and siamangs are responding positively to their treatment, but the BioPark animal care team is remaining cautious until all the apes fully recover, zoo officials said.