Surgeon operates on Zoo Knoxville gorilla

Knoxville surgeon helps gorilla get back on her feet after knee surgery
Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 3:14 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A Knoxville orthopedic surgeon’s work has called him to operate on an unusual patient: a gorilla.

Dr. Mike Casey usually spends his days helping patients get back on their feet. The call is usually to operate on human knees at Tennessee Orthopedic Clinic, but this time the call came from Zoo Knoxville to operate on one of its gorillas.

"Which was a great thrill for me. It’s not every day you get to tell everyone, ‘hey, I’m going to operate on a gorilla,’ said Casey.

University of Tennessee Veterinary Medical Center surgeon Dr. Darryl Millis needed the extra hand on Andi the gorilla’s knee surgery back in June. He said Dr. Casey was just the man for the job since gorilla knees are similar to human knees.

“A lot of the apes are close to humans, and we do dogs all the time, but this is a little different anatomy so I was happy to have this physician with us on this surgery,” said Millis.

Dr. Millis said the cartilage in the gorilla’s knee was not turning to bone the way it should, and he worried it would get worse for the animal who turned four Thursday.

Dr. Casey said his human patients were curious when he called them to clear his schedule for the day.

“They got a big kick out of it. They were less interested in their own knee problems and more interested in Andi the gorilla,” he laughed.

Zoo Knoxville said the surgery was a success. Zoo representatives said Andi is healthy and back to climbing and playing with the other gorillas in the exhibit.

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