• Mon. Mar 20th, 2023

Singapore: The penguins offered planet-1st cataract surgery


Mar 17, 2023
  • By Nicholas Yong
  • BBC News, Singapore

48 minutes ago

Image supply, Mandai Wildlife Group

Image caption,

A king penguin undergoing a 1st-of-its-type eye process in Singapore

From the biggest aviary in Asia they went, sitting in buckets filled with ice to preserve them cool although transported in air-conditioned vans.

A rapid 30km (19-mile) drive later, the 3 king penguins and 3 Humboldt penguins had arrived at a clinic in Singapore’s east.

There, a 5-individual veterinary group had been waiting to execute a delicate eye process, believed to be a planet 1st for penguins.

The sextet underwent the removal of the cloudy lenses brought on by cataracts – a widespread age-connected situation that develops in geriatric animals and hinders their vision – just before getting custom-created intraocular lens implants.

The lenses had been manufactured in Germany to match each and every penguin’s eye, primarily based on precise measurements, and took about two months to make, stated the Mandai Wildlife Group (MWG). The group manages some 21,000 animals, comprising just about 1,000 species, across 4 wildlife parks in Singapore.

“We noticed the cloudiness in their lens and [that they were] moving about like they had been getting difficulty seeing points in front of them,” stated MWG veterinarian Dr Ellen Rasidi.

In the quick aftermath, the penguins had to remain out of water and in a separate den from the rest of their colony. Eye drops had been also administered twice every day.

But just about 3 months following the process, which took up to two.five hours for each and every penguin, the aquatic flightless birds can see clearly now, with a noticeable improve in responsiveness and activity levels.

Image supply, Mandai Wildlife Group

Image caption,

Holly the Humboldt penguin, aged 17, is now extra active and responsive to her atmosphere

MWG has carried out cataract surgeries on other geriatric animals like sea lions and orangutans in the previous. It has also adopted innovations such as printing 3D protective footwear for birds of prey, in order to treat a potentially fatal foot illness.

But Dr Gladys Boo, a veterinary ophthalmologist who led the process, reckons that it is probably the 1st time penguins have effectively received intraocular lens implants, marking a “milestone” in veterinary medicine.

“As a bigger species, the king penguins have eyes significant and steady adequate to hold the custom lenses in spot, so we decided to pursue this planet-1st process,” stated Dr Boo, who is a single of only 3 men and women in South-East Asia certified by the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists, a renowned vet institution.

The surgery was complex by the distinctive traits of penguins, such as a third eyelid, which protects their eyes underwater but had a tendency to close throughout the surgery.

MWG declined to reveal the price of the surgery, but stated it was undertaken to strengthen the penguins’ high quality of life.

Image supply, Mandai Wildlife Group

Image caption,

Dr Gladys Boo checks the eye of a king penguin at Singapore’s Jurong Bird Park

The penguins had been 1st diagnosed by Dr Boo throughout verify-ups performed final August as portion of the MWG’s senior animal care strategy, which has been offering specialised care for elderly animals considering that 2017.

It entails extra frequent overall health checks and specialised diets for 361 geriatric animals, as properly as distinct adjustments to their exhibits. Examples contain placing perches for geriatric birds on reduce levels for simpler access, and adding further padding or bedding in preferred rest places.

The penguins reside at Singapore’s Jurong Bird Park, a well known tourist attraction which homes some five,000 birds.

King penguins hail from the South Atlantic and the South Indian Ocean and are the second-biggest of their type in the planet, although Humboldt penguins come from South America. The former can reside up to 40 years in captivity, and the latter usually reside for 15-20 years.

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