On Saturday July 11th, Dr. Eddy Kambale Syaluha and Jean-Paul Lukusa successfully removed a snare from Theodore, a two-year-old infant mountain gorilla from Humba group in Virunga National Park, DR Congo.

“Our passion is to protect gorillas.” ~ Jean-Paul Lukusa, Gorilla Doctors DRC Team, following the successful snare removal of Theodore

Infant Theodore with snare around his left wrist (slightly hidden behind foliage) before the veterinary intervention. © Gorilla Doctors

Theodore with his family before the veterinary intervention. © Gorilla Doctors

As a result of vigilant monitoring by Virunga National Park rangers, Theodore’s condition was immediately reported to Gorilla Doctors on Friday, July 10th and an emergency intervention was planned for the following morning. The biggest anticipated challenge facing Dr. Eddy and the intervention team was that Theodore, as an infant, was still very much with his mother, Kanyalire, and it was likely that both would need to be anesthetized in order for Dr. Eddy to safely attend to Theodore and remove the snare. Upon arrival that morning, Kanyalire and Theodore were grooming with Theodore’s older siblings (brother and sister), so not only would both Theodore and Kanyalire need to be darted, the intervention team would have to try and keep Theodore’s siblings from interfering once both were anesthetized.

Dr. Eddy and Jean-Paul were able to dart both Theodore and his mother simultaneously and fortunately, the rest of the group initially moved away, deeper into the forest. Silverback Mahindure, the second-in-command and very aggressive, was kept at bay by the intervention team while Dr. Eddy and Jean-Paul worked to remove the snare.

Infant Theodore under anesthesia during snare removal intervention. © Gorilla Doctors

Fortunately, the snare was made of nylon not wire, so it had not yet broken Theodore’s skin but his hand and forearm were swollen from the tightness of the snare having compromised the blood flow.

Dr. Eddy removes the snare. © Gorilla Doctors

Theodore’s left hand is swollen when compared to his right. © Gorilla Doctors

When Dr. Eddy reversed the anesthesia on Theodore, and he woke up, silverback Mahindure charged at the team and adult female Nzabonimba, Theodore’s sister, picked-up Theodore and carried him into the forest. Dr. Eddy performed a quick physical exam on Theodore’s mother and then reversed her anesthesia. Kanyalire rejoined the group and the first thing she did was retrieve Theodore from her daughter, Nzabonimba.

Kanyalire waking up from anesthesia. © Gorilla Doctors

Kanyalire, Theodore’s mother, returns to the group to retrieve Theodore.

Dr. Eddy and the intervention team observed the group and all were “happy” according to Dr. Eddy in his WhatsApp message to Dr. Kirsten late Saturday afternoon (early morning in the U.S.).

Intervention team post-intervention after the gorillas have moved deep into the forest. © Gorilla Doctors