How do you treat a gorilla with a gunshot wound? (Answer: Very, very carefully!)


Drifting off: Shufai was a baby when hunters left his arm peppered with gunshot. Last week, three vets from Britain flew to Cameroon to carry out an operation on Shufai's arm. In this image he feels the effects of an oral sedative

For ten long years, Shufai has carried the painful legacy of his mother’s murder.
He was still a baby clinging to this mother’s arms when hunters opened fire in Cameroon’s forests. Bullets killed his mother and left his arm peppered with gunshot.
Too small to be killed for meat, the terrified gorilla was forced to walk to a village with a rope around his neck, where he was tied to a bed and tormented by children.

Big hug: He soon falls asleep in the arms of sanctuary boss Rachel Hogan

After a week in agony, the injured youngster was rescued by the conservation group Ape Action Africa and taken to a sanctuary where, with love and patience, his emotional wounds began to heal.
But despite emergency surgery, he indicated as each year passed that the pain in his arm was worsening.
Now — as these extraordinary pictures show — Shufai’s pain has finally ended. Last week, three vets from Britain flew to Cameroon to carry out an operation on Shufai’s arm.
Rachel Hogan, who manages the sanctuary in the Mefou National Park, said: ‘He was just 12 months old when he was rescued, and he was incredibly traumatised. You couldn’t touch him, you couldn’t do anything with him.

Under the knife: Once he's knocked out, Shufai is moved to the makeshift operating theatre, where a 5cm-long piece of bone is removed from his wrist

‘He arrived in a transport cage. I spent two weeks just sitting next to him and at night slept in a chair outside the cage. He came in with horrific gunshot wounds to his arm, and a bullet had taken off the tip of his ear.
Not only was he in physical pain, emotionally he was suffering, too.’
Emergency surgery patched up the damage to his arm and head. But as he grew up, surrounded by his new gorilla family, his injuries grew worse.
Western lowland gorillas walk on their knuckles and Shufai — his name means ‘one with courage’ — was unable to run with the other apes at the centre, or climb high into trees.
Eventually, the team at the centre realised he needed treatment and turned to Twycross Zoo in Warwickshire and Nottingham University vet school for help.

After the op: Shufai, with his tongue lolling out, is wheeled back to his pen

Shufai was first given an oral sedative by Ms Hogan. He fell asleep, arms wrapped around her shoulders, before he was injected with anaesthetic and laid carefully in a wheelbarrow to be taken to the makeshift operating theatre — a school room with no glass in the windows and plastic sheeting put up to keep out insects.
Electricity in the jungle is available in the evening for only four hours, so a generator had to be fired up. The scalpels and other surgical equipment were sterilised in the UK and brought in sealed bags.
During the operation, a 5cm piece of bone was removed from Shufai’s wrist to relieve the pain and stop the deformity getting worse.

Drink up: One of the gorilla's keepers gives him a bottle of cola to try and perk him up

The result was the rescue mission that arrived in Cameroon a few days ago to conduct a two-hour operation on the gorilla’s arm.
The gunshot pellets had gone through Shufai’s wrist, fracturing a bone. That meant one of the bones of the wrist, the ulna, continued to grow, while the main bone, the radius, did not. As a consequence, his ulna was threatening to break the skin and was contorting his hand.
The British team included Sharon Redrobe, director of life sciences at Twycross Zoo, and Nottingham veterinary surgeons Dr Sandra Corr and Damian Chase.
Both surgeons were more used to treating cats and dogs than gorillas, so Dr Corr consulted a human paediatric surgeon for advice.

Free of pain: Shufai is soon back on his feet and enjoying his new lease of life

The wound was sealed with dissolvable stitches and covered with a temporary bandage.
Back in his cage, Shufai came round and was rehydrated with a bottle of cola. The following day, to the surgeons’ delight, he was bouncing around the cage in good spirits.
It could take years before his carers know whether the operation will be a permanent success, but the early signs are good.

source: dailymail