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In Photos: Doctors Treat Gorilla With a Horrible Sinus Infection

Gorilla scan

Gorilla scan

(Image credit: Greg Davis)

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.

Surgical scrubs

Surgical scrubs

(Image credit: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren | Woodland Park Zoo)

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.

Constant monitoring

gorilla hand

(Image credit: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren | Woodland Park Zoo)

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.

Pointy canines

Gorilla pointy canines

(Image credit: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren | Woodland Park Zoo)

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.

Sinus surgery

Gorilla sinus surgery

(Image credit: Greg Davis)

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.

Tough nose

Tough Gorilla Nose

(Image credit: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren | Woodland Park Zoo)

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 Gorilla Surgery

(Image credit: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren | Woodland Park Zoo)

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.

Laura Geggel
As an associate editor for Live Science, Laura Geggel covers general science, including the environment, archaeology and amazing animals. She has written for The New York Times, Scholastic, Popular Science and Spectrum, a site covering autism research. Laura grew up in Seattle and studied English literature and psychology at Washington University in St. Louis before completing her graduate degree in science writing at NYU. When not writing, you'll find Laura playing Ultimate Frisbee.