South African vets scan huge gorilla © Getty Images

South African vets take CT scan of 210kg gorilla

How do you look up a 210kg gorilla’s nose? Carefully...

Makokou, a western lowland gorilla, lives at Johannesburg Zoo. In May 2020, a biopsy revealed he was suffering from a series of polyps in his nasal passages.


A CT scan was the only way to safely determine the extent of the polyps’ growth, to help plan any future procedures.

Makokou being put on a stretcher © Getty Images
© Getty Images

The zookeepers chose the Onderstepoort Veterinary Academic Hospital in Pretoria for the scan as it was the only facility nearby with equipment robust enough to handle Makokou’s 210kg bulk. In early June, he was transported the 65km to the hospital via helicopter.

Makokou on a stretcher © Getty Images
© Getty Images

Thanks to Makokou’s enormous size, it took five members of staff to manoeuvre him into position for the scan.

Makokou in a scanner © Getty Images
© Getty Images

Once they had placed Makokou into the scanner, the team continuously monitored his vital signs – much like doctors would for a human patient – to ensure that he was safe at all times.

Makokou safely back in his enclosure © Johannesburg Zoo
© Johannesburg Zoo

Following the successful procedure, the team at Johannesburg Zoo tweeted this picture of 34-year-old Makokou safely back in his enclosure. Two weeks later, he underwent state-of-the art surgery to remove the polyps, and is now making a speedy recovery.

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