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Cincinnati Zoo Says Silverback 'Jomo' Has Degenerative Condition With No Cure

jomo gorilla
Kathy Newton
The Cincinnati Zoo shared this image of Jomo when announcing he has a degenerative spinal cord condition.

The Cincinnati Zoo says "Jomo," a 27-year-old silverback gorilla has a degenerative spinal cord condition. The zoo made the announcement Friday on Facebook saying the condition "unfortunately has no medical or surgical cure."Jomo, a western lowland gorilla, is being treated with medications and a combination of laser and physical therapy to alleviate his symptoms and make him comfortable. The zoo reports the condition affects his mobility and keepers are monitoring his quality of life.

"We're doing everything we can to help Jomo maintain a good quality of life through this tough period," Ron Evans, the zoo's curator of primates, tells WVXU. "Obviously this is hard on the keepers but they are amazing professionals and fully focused on Jomo and the other gorillas."

Evans says though Jomo has "ups and downs," he still "enjoys time with his family and continues in his important silverback leader role and as a model for his developing offspring."

However, visitors may notice that he seems to have more trouble walking and other problems as time goes on.

The posting on Facebook elicited an outpouring of support for the gorilla with people writing comments such as "do the best for him, please," and "Best regards and hoping the treatment is successful!!" Others offer prayers, well wishes and questions about whether something like a cortisone injection might be helpful.

Jomo is the zoo's largest gorilla. A silverback is the term for the dominant male that leads a troop of gorillas.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.