The Cle Elum Seven are fortunate to have a huge family of supporters from around the world. We are touched by how much you have grown to care about each of them, so we want to share with you some news about Burrito’s health.
We have recently started treating Burrito for congestive heart disease. In basic terms, his heart is not working as efficiently as it once did and as a result, his body has begun to accumulate fluids. While this sounds frightening, don’t be alarmed. Congestive heart disease is a chronic condition and with proper care it can often be managed quite successfully. We believe that we have caught it early, so that will be an advantage in his treatment.
CSNW has an amazing team of veterinarians overseeing Burrito’s care and we are working closely with other chimpanzee veterinarians with experience in treating this condition, so he is in great hands. I can assure you that at this point, Burrito is as happy and full of energy as he has ever been. We will of course do all we can to make sure he stays that way.
Below you will find a list of questions and answers to help explain things in more detail. If you have any questions that are not answered here, please feel free to leave a comment on this post or send us an email and we will do our best to answer it for you.
Thank you for being such an important part of Burrito’s family.
What is congestive heart disease?
Congestive heart disease is a condition in which the heart can not pump
blood efficiently enough to take care of the body’s needs. In response,
the body has difficulty expelling fluid and becomes “congested,”
particularly in the extremities.
What are the symptoms of congestive heart disease?
In chimpanzees, the most common initial symptom is swelling (edema). In
Burrito’s case, the first and at this point only sign of visible
swelling was in the scrotum. Other symptoms may include shortness of
breath, weakness, fatigue, and coughing due to fluid in the lungs.
Why do chimpanzees get heart disease?
In chimpanzees, heart disease includes both congestive heart disease and
idiopathic cardiomyopathy, in which the heart muscle becomes enlarged,
fibrous, or rigid. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in
captive chimpanzees. One study found that 68% of all chimpanzees
examined during necropsy at a large laboratory in the United States
showed evidence of heart disease. No one can say definitively at this
point why the prevalence of heart disease is so great in chimpanzees,
but it is most likely influenced by a combination of genetics, diet,
inactivity, and chronic stress.
What is CSNW doing to treat Burrito’s illness?
As is the case with humans, the best treatment for heart disease
includes a combination of medication, diet, and exercise. Burrito is
currently on medications that will help to improve his heart function
and eliminate excess fluid. The chimps at CSNW have always been on a
no-salt diet due to the general risk of heart disease in chimpanzees,
and that will continue. And with the opening of Young’s Hill last fall,
Burrito’s activity levels have increased even further since his days in
a laboratory cage.
What is Burrito’s prognosis?
Burrito’s care is being discussed and overseen by many of the world’s
best great ape veterinarians. We believe that we have caught Burrito’s
illness in its early stages. This, combined with medication, proper
diet, and exercise, should allow Burrito to enjoy many more years at
Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest.
Does Burrito’s illness cause him any pain or stress?
At this point, Burrito is not showing any signs of illness besides
swelling. In fact, he is happier and more playful now than he has been
in many months.