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SOUTHWEST MIAMI (CBSMiami) — How do you give a gorilla a physical? Very carefully of course!

That’s exactly what the experts at Zoo Miami did Tuesday as “Barney,” a 25-year-old silverback Lowland Gorilla, underwent a series of exams as part of a preventative medicine program.

In addition to the normal procedures which include blood collection, x-rays, and a general physical, the 414-pound great ape was also examined by several specialists to address specific issues that had been observed over the last several weeks.

Barney the Gorilla receives a physical exam at Zoo Miami on Dec. 12, 2018. (Zoo Miami/Ron Magill)

In addition to some skin rashes, Barney had a lingering cough that he couldn’t seem to shake.


For the rash issues, Barney was given a series of skin tests to determine if he had any specific allergies.  The initial results indicate that he may have a sensitivity to mango, plantains, and dust mites.

For the lingering cough, Barney was given a bronchoscopy to see if anything unusual could be identified within his bronchi and lungs. The entire team was surprised by what they saw!  As the endoscope ventured deep into the bronchi, small alien-looking invertebrates could be seen crawling around.  They were mites!

Now that the doctors know what’s causing his cough, Barney will be treated with special medication and the issue should be resolved relatively quickly, according to the zoo.

An ultrasound exam of Barney’s heart was also performed. Adult male gorillas have been known to suffer from hypertension and heart disease so this exam was to see if Barney needed to be treated for either of those. Though his blood pressure was normal, the cardiologist did find he had a slightly enlarged heart but felt that it was within normal limits for a gorilla of his age.

After passing his general physical, Barney returned to his habitat and has since made a full recovery!