Tiger's 'Mess' of an Eye Fixed in Notable Surgery

The corneal surgery is thought to have never been performed on a tiger before
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 17, 2021 3:01 PM CDT
In a World First, Vet Saves Eye of a Tiger
Ratna in her enclosure at Shepreth Wildlife Park.   (YouTube)

A veterinarian in England says performing corneal surgery on a 205-pound tiger is a lot like operating on a smaller cat—only with "a lot more anesthetic." Dr. David Williams, who rose up to the challenge after staff at a wildlife park noticed the 17-year-old Sumatran tiger's left eye was deteriorating, is believed to be the first-ever vet to carry out the surgery on a tiger, the BBC reports. Williams says Ratna's corneal ulcer may have been the result of the animal jabbing her eye on a stick of bamboo in her enclosure. Her eye was a "horrendous mess," he says, but two months after the tricky 30-minute surgery, she is "absolutely fine—you'd never know anything had been wrong.

Ratna had a cataract removed from the same eye two years ago, and while she may not have much vision left in it, the eye itself was saved and workers at Shepreth Wildlife Park say she seems a lot happier. "Her coordination seems much better now, and the best thing is the operation has eradicated the need for Ratna to have her eyedrops, and she was never that keen on those," says park director Rebecca Willers. Williams tells ITV that the tiger was a "fantastic patient," and that as long as she was distracted with a bit of meat, she didn't mind him flashing a light into her eye to examine her—from the other side of the bars. (A missing tiger in Houston was turned over to police Saturday.)

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