Experts from the Animal Health Trust stepped in to save the sight of a Humboldt penguin after keepers at Colchester Zoo noticed her sight deteriorating.
Experts from the Animal Health Trust (AHT) stepped in to save the sight of a Humboldt penguin after she was found to be suffering with cataracts in both eyes.
The 19-year-old penguin called Wellamy was referred to the AHT after keepers at Colchester Zoo noticed her sight deteriorating, which led to difficulties mixing with the other penguins.
Claudia Hartley, head of ophthalmology at the AHT, took a small team of vets from the trust out to the zoo to assess Wellamy’s eyesight and, after conducting a full examination, decided surgery was the only option to restore her vision.
Ms Hartley said: “Upon examining Wellamy we found that she had cataracts in both eyes which meant her vision was extremely impaired, especially under water.
“She also had severe inflammation called uveitis due to the cataracts which was causing her discomfort. It was in her best interest that we operate as quickly as possible to relieve the pain and restore her sight.”
Cataract surgery is an extremely delicate procedure on any animal, and birds are notoriously difficult to anaesthetise, so Steven Philp – a specialist in anaesthetising zoo animals from the International Zoo Veterinary Group (IZVG) – was called in to assist the AHT team.
Both eyes were operated on during the same procedure so Wellamy only needed to endure one anaesthetic and could get back to the zoo as soon as possible.
Wellamy’s keeper Kate Broad said: “We’re extremely pleased that thanks to the treatment she’s received, she will be able to live a much happier life. The AHT team were absolutely fantastic.
“Operating on a penguin is no easy task but the AHT team are experts in this kind of procedure and took every precaution to ensure that Wellamy received the very best care.”