There’s not many animals at the zoo that would gladly take a jab from a veterinarian but Mjukuu has been trained to do just that.
There’s not many animals at the zoo that would gladly take a jab from a veterinarian but Mjukuu has been trained to do just that.

Why a check up at the zoo is no monkey business

There's not many animals at the zoo that would gladly take a jab from a veterinarian but Mjukuu has been trained to do just that.

There is absolutely no monkeying around when the western lowland gorilla need to get his teeth and bloodchecked with the cheeky six-year-old trained to ensure a smooth and sleepy time at the Taronga Zoo Hospital.

Senior vet Larry Vogelnest and vet nurse Liz Arthur check Mjukuu’s teeth and mouth during the procedure. Picture: Toby Zerna
Senior vet Larry Vogelnest and vet nurse Liz Arthur check Mjukuu’s teeth and mouth during the procedure. Picture: Toby Zerna

 

Mjuuku has a chest x-ray as part of the check up. Picture: Toby Zerna
Mjuuku has a chest x-ray as part of the check up. Picture: Toby Zerna

Zookeepers train the gorillas with food rewards every day to accept the sedation injection so examining a sedated gorilla is far easier than most of the other patients Taronga Zoo senior vet Larry Vogelnest has

"The procedure went very well, he was injected by the keepers which made it so much easier for us at the hospital and for him," Dr Vogelnest said.

"It takes a lot of training for the keepers to teach the gorillas to give their shoulder for the injection, they offer food and the gorilla volunteers for the injection."

Senior vet Larry Vogelnest checks the gorilla’s eyes during the procedure. Picture: Toby Zerna
Senior vet Larry Vogelnest checks the gorilla’s eyes during the procedure. Picture: Toby Zerna

 

Senior vet Larry Vogelnest checks MJ's feet. Picture: Toby Zerna
Senior vet Larry Vogelnest checks MJ's feet. Picture: Toby Zerna

Dr Vogelnest took blood from Mjukuu, gave him his vaccinations and conducted a physical exam during the course of his appointment today.

"It's also a good opportunity to get baseline health information to ensure he is a young healthy gorilla," he said.

"This was his first medical exam but now we like to check up every 18 months."

The cheeky lowland gorilla was born at the zoo and is the son of silverback gorilla, Kibali.

Western lowland gorillas are an endangered species and Mjukuu is testament to Taronga Zoo's very successful breeding program.

Originally published as Why a check up at the zoo is no monkey business


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