Elderly penguins receive custom lenses in
Three elderly penguins at a Singapore zoo have undergone successful cataract surgery and received new custom lenses – the first time the procedure has been performed on animals. Mandai Wildlife Reserve announced on Tuesday.
The zoo said six penguins – three king penguins and three Humboldt penguins – from Jurong Bird Park underwent surgery to “improve their vision and improve their quality of life”, including cataracts. Removal of contaminated lenses was also included. Only three king penguins received the artificial lens – a “world first”, said Dr Gladys Bowe, who performed the surgery with a team at Mandai Wildlife Reserve.
“The success of these surgeries marks a milestone in veterinary medicine,” said Bo, a veterinary ophthalmologist. “Although intraocular lens implantation is common in humans and some domestic mammals, this is possibly the first time they have been used successfully on penguins.”
King penguins were chosen for the procedure because they are a large breed and have eyes large enough and stable enough to hold the lenses they want in place, he said. The lenses were made in Germany to fit each penguin’s eye based on their measurements and took about two months to complete.
While cataract surgeries are delicate procedures, Bo said, penguins’ third eyelid, which protects them underwater, makes it difficult for veterinarians to access the eyes. However, they were able to work through the challenges.
The penguins made a full recovery two months after the surgery and are currently back with their colony at the Jurong Bird Park. All the penguins are doing well, said Alan Rishitti, a veterinarian with the Mandai Wildlife Group, in a statement.
“Since the recovery period, we have seen an increase in response and activity levels in the penguins. It is good to see them more active, which indicates their improved vision, and for the king penguin – the new lenses. while also getting along well.”
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