This book promises expert knowledge on pathology and diseases of gorillas. The index of contents reveals that, apparently, two-thirds of the book deals with the topic suggested by the title while the subtitle, “With a Catalogue of Preserved Materials,” comprises 244 pages and that material takes up a large amount of the book. The extensive list of relevant references (38 pages) is indicative of the comprehensive experiences of the authors in the field of diseases and associated research. Seven (!) appendices address various practical aspects of field pathology dealing with research in this outstanding nonhuman primate species.
The part of the book covering the pathology and diseases of gorillas is subdivided into 19 chapters. In addition to information on morphology and general aspects of pathology, several chapters deal with investigation methods and recommendations for handling of samples and animals under field conditions. The descriptions rely on the experiences of the authors but are of minor importance for primate pathologists. For example, the chapter “Infectious Disease and Host Response” covers 12 pages, of which only three pages deal with more or less general aspects of virus infections (retroviruses, filoviruses, and poxviruses).
A focus of the book is the presentation of organ-related alterations. Information on the pathology of the various organ systems is described on the basis of the available literature and published case reports. Eight chapters contain information on the skin, the alimentary tract (including liver and pancreas), and the cardiorespiratory, lymphoid, urogenital, musculoskeletal, central nervous (including ear and eye), and endocrine systems. The associated information is not greatly informative in view of a comprehensive textbook for veterinary pathologists. Instead, emphasis is placed on aspects of field research. Methods and investigation strategies for field necropsies are obviously regarded to be more important than a detailed and systematic review of diseases and associated pathology in gorillas. Therefore, only a few figures display classic gross pathologic lesions whereas most illustrate live gorillas in various situations. Unfortunately, some figures showing histopathologic alterations and lesions are of poor quality.
The particular value of the book lies in its second part. The catalogue of preserved material includes available biologic materials in a large number of institutes and museums around the world. The length of this section and the detailed listing of materials reflect the work and passion of the authors in this special field of veterinary pathology. The catalogue integrates information on biobanks and collections of biologic materials of gorillas throughout the world and is a unique, outstanding, and useful collection for primatologists interested in research on gorillas. The catalogue is organized in alphabetic order of nations and corresponding cities. In this regard, it may be difficult to find particular samples in a printed data base.
In summary, this book provides general information on pathology and health of gorillas in view of field research. Without being a classic textbook on pathology, it is still useful for biologists and primatologists working with gorillas in the field. The descriptions, methods, and protocols are helpful for scientists without experience in pathology and necropsies, including appropriate sampling strategies for subsequent laboratory tests. For veterinarians and, in particular, for veterinary pathologists, it gives an impression about special requirements when working with gorillas under field conditions. As a reference source, the catalogue may be the most-comprehensive data collection on gorilla material in the world.
Charles E. Rupprecht
Book reviews express the opinions of the individual authors regarding the value of the book's content for Journal of Wildlife Diseases readers. The reviews are subjective assessments and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors, nor do they establish any official policy of the Wildlife Disease Association.