Zoo and UW Medicine team treat gorilla's sinuses

Slideshow: An inside look during the procedure that put Woodland Park Zoo’s Vip on path to recovery

By McKenna Princing   |  HSNewsBeat  |  Updated 10:15 AM, 08.13.2015

Posted in: Community

  • SLIDESHOW: Greg Davis, UW associate professor of otolaryngology, briefs the multidisciplinary team before surgery. McKenna Princing
  • Allergy test injections at the ready to determine if an underlying allergy could be contributing to Vip’s chronic sinus problems. McKenna Princing
  • Vip arrives on a zoo ambulance from a pre-op room where he received anesthesia. It takes a lot of muscle to slide the 430-pound gorilla onto a gurney and wheel him into the operating room. McKenna Princing
  • Veterinarian Kelly Helmick and staff insert a breathing tube for Vip. McKenna Princing
  • Veterinarian Darin Collins (left, standing), director of animal health at the zoo, looks on as staff get Vip ready for surgery and secure his limbs. Davis observes from the back. McKenna Princing
  • UW Medicine providers stand by as the zoo's animal health staff give Vip a preventive exam. McKenna Princing
  • Zookeepers and medical staff gather side-by-side to see Vip prepped for surgery. McKenna Princing
  • Veterinarian specialist Kim Coyner performs allergy testing. Vip also had his heart function checked. McKenna Princing
  • Surgeon Davis consults with veterinarian Collins during Vip's allergy testing and heart evaluation. Vip’s surgeries have forged a strong partnership between UW Medicine and Woodland Park Zoo. McKenna Princing
  • Collins talks with one of Vip’s keepers, who is phoning for samples of hay from Vip’s enclosure for allergen testing. McKenna Princing
  • Results of Vip’s allergy test sit next to samples of hay from Vip’s enclosure. The samples were gathered to check for allergens that could be contributing to the gorilla’s chronic sinus infections. McKenna Princing
  • One of Vip’s keepers gazes with concern into the operating room as his charge's surgery is underway. McKenna Princing
  • Each team member has a job to do during the gorilla's surgery. McKenna Princing
  • This is the second time UW Medicine ear, nose and throat surgeon Greg Davis has operated on Vip. Both times, the gorilla had a sinus infection and nasal polyps. McKenna Princing
  • With the surgery complete, zookeepers and animal health staff get ready to transport Vip back to a private enclosure, where he can rest and recover before being reunited with his family. McKenna Princing
Click on the arrows within the photos for the slideshow.

Each UW Medicine staff member in Woodland Park Zoo’s operating room Aug. 9 understood that providing care for a gorilla was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. That is, except for Dr. Greg Davis, the surgeon who was clearing the sinuses of Vip, the 430-pound silverback (adult male gorilla) for the second time.

“He’s definitely one of my more unique patients,” Davis said. “He’s a large, powerful animal and has such a presence. I’m honored to be able to help him out.”

The infection and polyps removed were minor compared with last year’s procedure, he said. Davis is a UW assistant professor of otolaryngology - head and neck surgery.

Vip stands for Very Important Primate. That was apparent from the large volunteer team from the zoo and UW Medicine present at his procedure. Before surgery, Vip received allergy testing to see if an underlying issue is causing his recurrent sinus infections. He also had his heart checked. 

See Woodland Park Zoo blog post, "Breathe easy: Vip recovers from successful sinus surgery"
Tagged with: gorilla, sinus, surgery
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