Gorilla Health in the Wild

The Global Health Program collaborates with UC Davis’ Gorilla Doctors and Rwandan, Congolese, and Ugandan field veterinarians to further capacity building and research with a direct impact on the conservation and health of critically endangered eastern gorillas, including the mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei). While the mountain gorilla is the only great ape species whose numbers are increasing, only 1,063 mountain gorillas currently remain in the wild, and each individual gorilla has conservation value.

The second largest Ebola outbreak in history is ongoing less than 16 miles from endangered mountain gorilla habitat. The virus has not yet entered this subpopulation of gorillas, but Ebola is highly lethal for great apes and could potentially extirpate, or wipe out, the species. In partnership with Gorilla Doctors and the Species Conservation Toolkit Initiative, GHP scientists are modeling the potential impact of Ebola to evaluate the effects of various mitigation efforts. This project uses computer models to predict the impact Ebola virus could have on mountain gorillas, as well as ways to control the spread of the disease.

Other projects include:

  • The utility of allostatic load, or the long-term effects of chronic stress on the body, to identify subclinical disease (disease without readily observable signs and symptoms) in gorillas and thereby enable prediction of morbidity and mortality. The correlation to various factors could lead to mitigation efforts in managed gorilla populations.
  • A review of anesthetic protocols (procedures for the use of anesthesia) used by Gorilla Doctors to conduct clinical interventions on mountain gorillas
  • A case study on malignant melanoma, the first report of this type of cancer in a great ape species
  • Pathology findings in the endangered golden monkey (Cerpithecus kandti), a sympatric species that shares a common habitat range with the mountain gorilla and therefore can inform on disease circulating in the region

Continue Exploring

Changing Landscapes Initiative

Smithsonian scientists work alongside community members in Northwestern Virginia to evaluate the impacts of land-use change on wildlife, ecosystem services and community health.

Coral Biobank Alliance

Smithsonian scientists are part of the Coral Biobank Alliance, a global network of coral experts preserving corals for restoration and research.

Coral Species Cryopreserved with Global Collaborators​

View a list of the coral species that have been cryopreserved using a technique developed by Smithsonian scientists.

Wildebeest Conservation

Conservation Ecology Center scientists are tracking the movements of white-bearded wildebeest to understand how changes across the landscape impact the species.

Protecting Piping Plovers in the Great Lakes

In 2022, the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center will begin a new research project to help protect endangered piping plovers from predation by merlins.

Swift Fox Recovery

Smithsonian scientists, in collaboration with the Fort Belknap Fish and Wildlife Department, are embarking on a five-year swift fox reintroduction project to restore swift foxes to tribal lands and to help reestablish connectivity between disjointed swift fox populations.

Conserving the World’s Largest Working Wetland

Conservation Ecology Center researchers are collaborating with institutions in Brazil and other Smithsonian colleagues to support sustainable cattle ranching in the Pantanal wetland.