Finyezi (Fin), the five-month-old gorilla born at the OKC Zoo, is in good condition after a successful hernia repair operation on Wednesday, November 14, at the Joan Kirkpatrick Animal Hospital. Fin is recovering in his habitat at Great EscApe but remains backstage, off public view.
A hernia is an opening or tear in the body wall that isn’t supposed to be there. Hernias can be congenital (present at birth) or acquired (usually due to trauma). The most common types of congenital hernias are umbilical and inguinal. Fin was born with bilateral inguinal hernias (congenital) and had intestinal loops herniate into the scrotum. Fin’s hernia had been present since birth but was not identified immediately because there were no tissues herniated through the opening. Around the beginning of November it was noted that one side was markedly enlarged and on further exam it was discovered that there were loops of bowel in the scrotum. During the surgical repair, a second small hernia was noted on the other side as well and was fixed to prevent future problems. There was no indication Fin experienced any pain due to the condition.
The minimally invasive 20-minute surgery was done laparoscopically (using a surgical camera) to reduce recovery time and post-operative pain. Veterinary staff say Fin is doing great after the procedure and remains curious, active and hungry. He should be fully healed in two to three weeks.
Fin was born at the Great EscApe habitat on June 19 to mother Ndjole (pronounced In-jōlee) and father Togo (pronounced Toe-go). Despite multiple attempts, Ndjole did not display any signs of maternal care toward Fin since giving birth, and the caretaker team has been hand rearing the gorilla. In the last five months, he has gone from 4.4 pounds to 12 pounds and has hit a variety of development milestones. Caretakers report he is crawling and “knuckle walking,” taking bottles every four hours and starting to eat solids.
Fin is the 27th gorilla to be born at the Oklahoma City Zoo since 1974.
It is the Zoo’s goal to explore every option to reunite the infant with other gorillas as soon as possible. The Zoo’s veterinarian team and gorilla caretakers will work with the Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP) through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to determine when the baby will be returned to a gorilla group or placed with a surrogate mother, even if that means relocating to another AZA-accredited zoo. SSP programs oversee the population management of select species within AZA member institutions.
With this recent addition, the Zoo continues its involvement in the Gorilla SSP. One of the SSP's most important roles is to manage gorillas as a population to ensure that the population remains healthy, genetically-diverse and self-sustaining. Native to the lowland forests of Central and Western Africa, Western lowland gorillas are critically endangered. Commercial hunting for meat, habitat loss and disease are contributing factors to their status in the wild.