Seattle zoo gorilla gets life saving surgery from UW doctor

KING 5's Michelle Li reports.

SEATTLE, Wash. -- The Woodland Park Zoo says it's closely watching a 450-pound silverback gorilla, which just had a life-saving operation done - not by a veterinarian, but by a doctor for humans.

"I have done nothing like this before, so this was a new experience for me," said Dr. Andrew Wright, director of UW Medicine Hernia Center and general surgeon at Northwest Hospital.

The gorilla's name is Vip, which stands for "very important primate." The 38-year-old gorilla needed emergency, umbilical hernia surgery, and the zoo needed a specialist - and fast. 

Vip had undergone previous surgery by Dr. Greg Davis, an ear, nose and throat surgeon with UW Medicine.

"He said, 'I don't know anything about hernias, but I've got a guy,' and they called me. So that's how I got involved," said Dr. Wright. "So I went in on a Saturday morning and was not expecting to operate on a 450-pound gorilla, but there I was."

Wright said gorillas and humans share a similar anatomy, so the actual operation was very much the same as operating on a human.

"The recovery is a little bit different. It's hard to tell a gorilla not to do what a gorilla wants. So it's an early recovery after surgery. He was up and moving right away," said Wright.

Vip is already up and back to normal, mostly because it's hard to tell a gorilla to take it easy. 

Listening to the full interview with Dr. Andrew Wright.

© 2017 KING-TV


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