KAYLA THOMAS

On Monday, 21 September, the historic surgery of gorilla Makokou will be shared in a documentary on PeoplesWeather, DSTV channel 180. The documentary will air in three parts at 18:00 on 21, 22 and 23 September, and be repeated as a complete series on World Gorilla Day on 24 September.

The “three hour surgery […]” is a “truly heart-warming account”

People’sWeather is a weather, environmental news and lifestyle channel, which was granted exclusive access to film Makokou’s surgery – the second ever performed of its kind. Stephan Le Roux, CEO of People’sWeather, says they “feel so privileged to be able to share this ground-breaking surgery”, and that “it was electrifying, as no less than 24 generous professionals pour their energy into ensuring the success of this operation”. The documentary follows Makokou’s three hour surgery to remove inflammatory polyps in his nasal passages, which were causing chronic sinusitis, and is a “truly heart-warming account” of “Makokou’s fascinating medical journey”.

His curator and keepers celebrated his 35th birthday in July, when “he was able to enjoy a few treats with a far better sense of smell and taste”.

Makokou’s journey began in June, when veterinarians noticed the 34 year old Western Lowland gorilla had a persistent nasal discharge, which was not responding to treatment. Makokou was “airlifted to the Faculty of Veterinary Science at Onderstepoort for a CT scan. Both the helicopter airlift and the CT scan were pioneering world firsts”, says People’sWeather. On 20 June, his surgery was performed by a team consisting of veterinarians from UP’s Faculty of Veterinary Science and Johannesburg Zoo, as well as human surgeons and medical specialists. The team included Dr Kresen Pillay, veterinarian for Johannesburg Zoo, Dr Kobus Venter, human ENT specialist, and Faculty of Veterinary Science members, Professor Gerhard Steenkamp, Dr Justin Grace, Professor Adrian Tordiffe and Dr Roxanne Buck. People’sWeather explains that “after three hours of surgery, Makokou was returned to his enclosure night-room”. Dr Pillay said “it was a major relief to all when Makokou woke up without complications, with no recollection he had just made history”, and that “the Johannesburg Zoo veterinary team reported he was looking well”. His curator and keepers celebrated his 35th birthday in July, when “he was able to enjoy a few treats with a far better sense of smell and taste”.

Watch the documentary from 21 to 23 September, or on World Gorilla Day on 24 September, on People’sWeather, DSTV channel 180.

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