A hysterectomy performed Thursday morning on Hogle Zoo's 43-year-old gorilla, Muke, was successful.

Doctors decided to operate when they learned that Muke had cancer, said zoo spokeswoman Holly Braithwaite. The gorilla had been suffering from abdominal cramping, bloating and bleeding for a few years.

Muke, an African-born western lowland gorilla, has been under the care of her keepers as well as a human obstetrician/gynecologist and a human reproductive cancer specialist, Braithwaite said.

Thursday morning, the doctors removed one cancerous polyp as well as Muke's uterus and ovaries. The cancer seemed to be concentrated in that area, Braith- waite said.

However, doctors fear the cancer may have spread. They will keep a close eye on the gorilla in coming days and weeks.

Muke is old for a gorilla, Braithwaite said. Gorillas live longer in captivity than in the wild, but Muke can be compared to a 70- or 80-year-old human.

Muke has lived at the Hogle Zoo since 1996, when she was transferred from St. Louis. She lives with a male gorilla named Tino, but the two have never mated, Braithwaite said. Tino has been concerned by Muke's absence and has been wandering his cage restlessly, Braithwaite said.

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