Singapore performs world's first penguin cataract surgery

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 World's first penguin cataract surgery performed in Singapore< /p>

From Asia's largest enclosure, six penguins set out sitting in ice-filled buckets in air-conditioned vans to keep them at the right temperature.

Through Three king penguins and three Humboldt penguins arrived at a clinic in eastern Singapore.

There, a five-person veterinary team was waiting to perform a delicate eye surgery that was the first in the world to be performed on penguins.

The birds had their lenses clouded from cataracts removed and custom-made intraocular lenses were implanted. Cataract— a common age-related disease that develops in older animals that impairs their vision, eventually leading to blindness

According to the Mandai Wildlife Group (MWG), the lenses were made in Germany to fit each penguin's eye based on precise measurements and took about two months to make. The group contains approximately 21,000 animals of almost 1,000 species, in four wildlife parks in Singapore.

Immediately after the operation, the penguins had to stay out of the water and in a separate enclosure. During the rehabilitation period, the veterinarians injected them with eye drops twice a day.

Nearly three months after the procedure, which lasted up to 2.5 hours for each penguin, the eyesight of the birds was completely restored.

In the past, MWG has performed cataract surgeries on other older animals such as sea lions and orangutans. It has also introduced innovations such as 3D printed safety shoes for birds of prey to treat a potentially fatal foot condition.

But Dr. Gladys Boo, the veterinary ophthalmologist who led the procedure, believes penguins may have been successfully implanted with intraocular lenses for the first time, marking a “landmark” in veterinary medicine.

The operation was complicated by penguins' unique characteristics, such as a third eyelid that protected their eyes underwater and constantly tried to close during the operation.

MWG declined to disclose the cost operation, but stated that it was undertaken to improve the quality of life of the penguins.

The penguins live in Singapore's Jurong Bird Park, a popular tourist attraction with about 5,000 birds.

King penguins are native to the South Atlantic and the southern Indian Ocean and are the second largest of their species in the world, while Humboldt penguins are native to South America. The former can live up to 40 years in captivity, while the latter typically live 15-20 years.

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