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When one of the National Zoo's gorillas goes in for tests, it's not just standard operating-room procedure

By discovering heart disease early, echocardiograms have improved life for many a human; now Washington cardiologists are using them to help great apes at the National Zoo

The team struggles through narrow doorways with Mopie and deposits him in a van for the trip back to the ape house. There they tug and push him through barred passageways to a cage, where the anesthesia tube is removed. Immediately he begins to clear his throat, sounding exactly like my father in the morning. In a minute he starts to move, and the staff leaves to give the same round of tests to another gorilla.

I hear some serious screams and the pounding of bare feet as a large female named Mesou flees down a runway. Following her, holding a long dart gun, comes the intrepid Dr. Spelman in clean coveralls, her brown hair pulled back in a ponytail. She moves with deliberation, intent and calm.

The CO2 gun pops. "There," she says. "That was a good one." Mesou sits down with a philosophic grunt.

By Michael Kernan

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