Jan Ramer is not your typical veterinarian. For one thing, she makes house calls, which might involve exhausting six-hour hikes through sloping, high-altitude rainforests just to reach her patients: critically endangered mountain gorillas. Then, to have a chance at successful treatment, Ramer’s team of vets, rangers, trackers, and assistants must tranquilize the sick animal without raising the ire of the silverback—the group’s dominant male, who can weigh in at 400 pounds or more.
On one ill-fated outing, a leery silverback didn’t appreciate the intrusion on his family, so he sunk his canines into a guard’s shoulder before running off into the forest, leaving the man in shock and the team with an aborted mission. (The guard survived and still works with gorillas.) Oftentimes though, the team is successful. They treat ailments such as respiratory infections and remove hunters’ snares.
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