Vip, a 425-pound gorilla, was born in a zoo in the Netherlands and moved to a Boston zoo before coming to Seattle in 1996. After he had trouble breathing, zookeepers sedated him for a CT scan. The scan allowed doctors to diagnose him with a severe sinus infection.
The zoo scheduled Vip's surgery five days later. With the help of the University of Washington, they turned the operating room at Woodland Park Zoo into a cutting-edge surgical suite.
Vip's sinus infection was so bad that both of his eyes were swollen on the day of the surgery. Animal health staff at Woodland Park Zoo administered anesthesia and monitored his vitals for four hours during the procedure.
Dr. Greg Davis from the University of Washington led the surgical team that operated on Vip. "Every time I looked down I would just see these fangs sitting there," Davis told Live Science.
Davis and his team widened the natural openings in the sinus and removed some tissue and bone. They also removed out a large amount of thickened pus.
Vip's nose presented a challenge: it acted like an accordion, making it difficult to slip his instruments into during surgery Davis said. The surgeon turned his a special device that kept the nose open to help the surgery go smoothly.
After Gorilla Surgery
After the surgery, zookeepers wheeled Vip, which stands for Very Important Primate, out of the surgical room. The gorilla, who is now able to breathe through his nose, is making a good, but guarded recovery, they said.
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Laura is the archaeology and Life's Little Mysteries editor at Live Science. She also reports on general science, including paleontology. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Scholastic, Popular Science and Spectrum, a site on autism research. She has won multiple awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association for her reporting at a weekly newspaper near Seattle. Laura holds a bachelor's degree in English literature and psychology from Washington University in St. Louis and a master's degree in science writing from NYU.