December 22, 1979in Chicago, Illinois, USA- April 11, 2008) was a male silverback Western Lowland Gorilla("Gorilla gorilla gorilla"), the youngest of three sons born to Otto and Benga at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo. Between 1988 and 1992 he sired 8 offspring, 5 of them with Madge of the Cincinnati Zoo. Six of his offspring survived into maturity, and he has one grandchild, Kiazi Kitamu at the Pittsburgh Zoo. Babec was exhibited at the Birmingham Zooin Birmingham, Alabamafrom 1993 until his death in 2008. He was the first and only gorilla to have been successfully fitted with a pacemaker, which he wore for four years.
In 2003 Babec was diagnosed with end-stage
heart failuredue to fibrosing cardiomyopathyafter he exhibited symptoms including coughing, lethargy and loss of appetite and indications of chest pains. As part of his therapeutic diet, zoo veterinarian E. Marie Rush prescribed antacids, antibiotics, diuretics and two 30-oz servings of grape-flavor Poweradeper day, which was donated by the Birmingham Coca-Cola Bottling Company.
September 25, 2004Babec became the first gorilla to undergo the successful implant of a cardiac resynchronization therapy device (a type of advanced pacemaker). The device was suggested and donated by its manufacturer, the Guidant Corporation. It was implanted during a 6-hour operation performed at the zoo's veterinary hospital and led by University of Alabama at Birminghamcardiologist Neal Kay. He came through the operation well and special care was taken to modify his environment to minimize opportunities to jeopardize the procedure through strenuous arm activity. His fingernails were closely clipped and various distractions applied, such as fingernail color, shaved patches of hair and chewing gum in his fur, to distract him from manipulating his sutures.
In the Spring of 2005 the wires connecting the CRT device to Babec's heart were loosened in a friendly tussle with the zoo's younger gorilla, Jamie. The damage was evident because of the return of Babec's symptoms. The damage was corrected surgically and zoo staff made the decision to alternate Babec's and Jamie's exhibit times.
April 29, 2007the CRT device was again replaced in a 7-hour procedure.
Babec was euthanized on
April 11, 2008after his health declined dramatically over three weeks.
* [http://www.bhamwiki.com/wiki/index.php?title=Babec#External_links Babec] at BhamWiki.com
* Bryant, Walter (May 1, 2007) "Birmingham Zoo gorilla gets a new pacemaker." "Birmingham News".
* " [http://www.birminghamzoo.com/babec%20story.asp A Special Anniversary for Babec] " (Winter 2005) "Animal Tracks". Birmingham Zoo newsletter.
* Pennington, Rosemary (December 22, 2005) " [http://www.wbhm.org/News/2005/Babec.html Babec's Pacemaker] ". WBHM audio.
* Bischoff, Tracy (April 12, 2006) " [http://main.uab.edu/show.asp?durki=91761 Bravery Beads String Together Little Girl, Giant Gorilla] " UAB press release.
* Dybas, Cheryl Lyn (August 21, 2006) " [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/20/AR2006082000478.html Success Beats in the Heart of a Captive Gorilla] " "Washington Post".
* " [http://health.uab.edu/Default.aspx?pid=69863 Help for an Ailing Gorilla] " (September 13, 2004) "UAB Synopsis" Vol. 23, No. 34
* [http://members.inteliport.net/~gorillas/0709.htm Babec data] at [http://members.inteliport.net/~gorillas/ Gorillas Galore]
* [http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/babec/ Photos of Babec] on Flickr.com
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