MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As part of its “One Health” initiative, Zoo Miami asked a human medical expert to aid in the surgery of a lesser ape suffering from digestive problems.

Zoo Miami Communications Director Ron Magill said “Sia,” a 29-year-old siamang, had a buildup of sand and small pebbles in her gastrointestinal tract.

Because lesser apes like Sia have many anatomical similarities to humans, especially with regard to the GI tract, the zoo’s Animal Health Department reached out to Dr. Gaetano Ciancio for help.

PIX: ‘Sia’ The Siamang Undergoes Surgery At Zoo Miami

Ciancio, a human transplant and oncology specialist from Jackson Health Systems, assisted Dr. Briana Danielson, a private veterinary surgeon, and Dr. Marisa Bezjian, a Zoo Miami associate veterinarian, with Sia’s surgery.

On Friday, the team successfully removed a significant amount of foreign matter from Sia, who is doing well in recovery and should return to her habitat soon.


  • Medium-sized primates between 22-25 pounds
  • Feed on a variety of leaves and fruits
  • Primarily arboreal and live in the mountain tropical forests of Malaysia and Borneo
  • Arms are about twice as long as their legs to help swing span which can exceed 25 feet
  • Have an inflatable throat sac to help with calls that can travel great distances
  • Listed as endangered primarily due to habit loss