A photographer who captured heartwarming images of a gorilla holding a nurse’s hand during a health check has spoken out about the experience.
At the Buffalo Zoo in New York, the 34-year-old western lowland gorilla named Koga – who weighs a whopping 400lb – is required to undergo a ‘health MOT’ biannually to make sure he’s fit and well.
Christian Dobosiewicz took pictures during Koga’s “health MOT” and captured a wholesome moment of the gorilla clutching one of the nurse’s hands.
The zoo’s team were checking on Koga’s teeth, eyes, muscles, joints and heart, making sure everything’s working in perfect order and that the gorilla isn’t at risk of heart disease.
In order to undergo the check-up, Koga had to be placed unconscious. It’s a big process and takes a big team to ensure everything goes smoothly. He is huge and can be a very dangerous animal, so it can be tense to begin with, but our team are remarkable,” Dobosiewicz explained.
Although, the team were immediately put at ease as soon as they caught sight of Koga holding a nearby veterinary nurse’s hand while his heart was being checked.
Dobosiewicz noted how the gesture exemplifies the kind nature of the animal, explaining how the gorilla may give off “mean looks” but that it’s his role as the protector of his troop.
Dobosiewicz added how Koga has been a “very good father” ever since coming to the zoo in 2007.
“He is really good with keepers and responds well to training sessions and behind the scenes he is always playing with the kids,” he continued.
Dobosiewicz reflected on how “incredible” it was to “see the size of [Koga’s] hands and fingers”.
“I put my hands up against his and it puts a lot of things into perspective. It’s very cool to see it how powerful and strong he is, as well as getting so close to such an interesting animal,” he continued.
The photographer and author of the zoo’s news added that the team are “always on the ball” and “professional” so it’s ‘never nerve racking’ getting so up close and personal with an animal anyway. “I know how amazing they are at their job,” he said.
Dobosiewicz concluded: “Everything went well during the examination and Koga is as happy and healthy as ever.”