by Ali Berman
Categories: Animals.
Photo: Flickr via tiswango

When we talk about America’s obesity epidemic, we’re usually just talking about humans. However, it seems that gorillas should also be added to the conversation.

Turns out the number one killer of male Western lowland gorillas in this country isn’t old age— something you might assume based on the fact that gorillas only exist here in zoos and sanctuaries where their diets are managed by humans. Nope. The number one killer is heart disease.

In fact, gorillas have loved their sugary fortified biscuits so much that they would vomit them back up just so they could enjoy them again. Gross.

Now a zoo in Cleavland is feeding their two gorillas plants by the wheelbarrow full. Literally.

Science Daily reports:

“Gone is the bucketful of vitamin-rich, high-sugar and high-starch foods that zoos used for decades to ensure gorillas received enough nutrients.

Instead, Cleveland’s Mokolo and Bebac receive a wheelbarrow of romaine lettuce, dandelion greens and endive they gently tear and bite, alfalfa hay they nimbly pick through, young tree branches they strip of succulent bark and leaves, green beans, a handful of flax seeds, and three Centrum Silver multivitamins tucked inside half a smashed banana.”

With this new diet the apes spend over half their time eating and foraging. After a year, the pair have both lost around 65 pounds. This puts them at roughly the same weight as a wild gorilla.

However, it’s suspected that while they are about the same weight as the wild gorillas, the ones in the wild have much more muscle. The next step would be exercising the gorillas. Even the biggest zoos aren’t the same as a nice big jungle to run around in. Being stuck in an enclosure where all your needs are tended to makes for lazy and bored gorillas.

Perhaps this new research will help create happier gorillas in the zoos. Most certainly it will help create healthier ones. Now, if only someone would come and take the sugary biscuits away from us humans. We might shed some pounds too.

Via Gawker

About Ali Berman

Ali Berman is the author of Choosing a Good Life: Lessons from People Who Have Found Their Place in the World (Hazelden) and Misdirected (Seven Stories Press). She works as a humane educator for HEART teaching kids about issues affecting people, animals and the environment. Her published work can be found on her website at In early 2012 Ali co-founded flipmeover, a production company with the mission to use media to raise awareness of social issues.

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  • herwin

    biscuits for humans should be laced with cyanid, that should solve a problem or two..

  • Eli

    I’m thinking biscuits laced with some sort of contraceptive should do the trick.