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‘World First’ as Vet Saves Eye of a Tiger in Operation

For the first time in the world, a vet performed surgery to heal an ulcerated cornea in the eye: from a tiger.

Shepreth Wildlife Park

If one can bear the insufferable puns, one will be glad to note that the 17-year-old Sumatran tiger Ratna in Shepreth Wildlife Park in England he made a full recovery after surgery that successfully restored his sight.

Having had a cataract removed from her left eye in 2017, Ratna developed another problem with her conjunctiva, the pink part of the eyeball. Staff noticed that his eyeball was deteriorating and eventually turned bright red as if he had a fractured blood vessel.

Surgeon Dr. David Williams, Queen’s Veterinary School Hospital, University of Cambridge, performed an operation that is not uncommon in domestic cats and dogs, and it was completed in the same way, in addition to requiring “much more anesthesia.”

It is believed to be the first “hood graft” surgery to be performed on a large cat.

Williams hypothesized that Ratna must have spotted a bamboo fragment in his enclosure.

MORE: Big news for emerging tiger populations in India and discovered in Thailand – on World Tiger Day 2020

After two months of careful postoperative follow-up, which included daily eye drops, he declared that Ratna was fully recovered.

Shepreth Wildlife Park

Ratna, who moved to Shepreth with her daughter in 2019, was known to enjoy sitting on the top platform of her compound, but once her cornea worsened, her coordination declined and getting up and down became a struggle.

RELATED: Couple buys acres around India’s tiger reserve to reforest so big cats can roam

Describing his patience with human hands on his face as “fantastic,” said vet Williams the BBC now it’s “absolutely fine, you’d never know something was wrong.”

Dr. David Williams, Shepreth Wildlife Park

The only bad news from the ordeal is that none of the staff, not even Dr. Williams, managed to report to the BBC that Ratna was “looking at us all with a tiger’s eye.”

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