Leopard recovering after groundbreaking surgery

A rare Siberian leopard is returning to its home in a wildlife park after vets successfully carried out a groundbreaking eye operation.

Experts at the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket, Suffolk, removed cataracts from the eyes of a nine-old-male Amur leopard.

It is thought to be the first time such a delicate eye operation has been carried out on a big cat.

The three-hour operation was performed by animal eye specialist Jane Sansom and Jessei was fit to begin the journey home shortly afterwards.

A spokeswoman for the AHT, a charity which specialises in veterinary research work, said without the operation the leopard, which lives at the Cotswold Wildlife Park in Oxfordshire, would probably lose its sight and might have to be put down.

"This is a very important operation because there are only 35 to 40 of this type of leopard left in the wild and there's a big breeding programme going on.

"We carry out eye operations regularly on dogs and occasionally on cats. But this is the first time we have heard of such an operation being carried out on a big cat.

"The problem is not so much the surgery but the anaesthetic. There's no data on the effects on anaesthetic on animals like this and the surgeon had to be very careful."

She added: "Everything went very smoothly. We were able to complete the work on both eyes and Jessei's life should now be much more enjoyable."

Story filed: 19:36 Thursday 3rd January 2002
Source: Ananova

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