Vets at the Animal Health Trust (AHT) have carried out surgery to restore the sight of a porcupine from Chessington World of Adventures.

Zoo handlers at Chessington contacted the trust for advice after noticing the porcupine’s left eye looked blurry.

Mwoiba, the 10-year-old female porcupine, was taken to the trust in Kentford, Suffolk where it was examined by Claudia Hartley, head of small animal ophthalmology.

Miss Hartley said: “It was instantly clear Mwoiba did not want to be examined. She continually gave a defiant rattle of her spines as a warning to us all to ‘watch our step’.”

To carry out the examination, Mwoiba had to be anaesthetised and then intubated – a procedure carried out by vet Steve Philp, from International Zoo Vet Group in Yorkshire

This enabled Miss Hartley to perform an ocular ultrasound to pinpoint the damage to the eye.

“We could see she had suffered a severe trauma to her left eye,” Miss Hartley said. “We suspected she had incurred this while ‘arguing’ with her housemate and had suffered a perforating trauma, perhaps from one of their threatening spines.”

Fortunately for Mwoiba, her retina had not become detached during the scuffle – a detached retina would have meant no surgery could rectify the problem and restore her sight.

With Mwoiba under anaesthetic, Miss Hartley was able to perform the surgery.

“We removed her cataract and could see the trauma had scarred the retina above the optic nerve, but that some normal retina was still present,” she said. 

Seven weeks after the cataract surgery, Mwoiba has been reintroduced to her mate.

Miss Hartley said: “We’re thrilled vision has returned to Mwoiba’s left eye, and we hear from her handlers she is back in rude health. She is a real character, and we at the AHT are all delighted to have been able to help her see clearly again.”

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