A 17 year old Sumatran tiger has had her left eye saved in what is believed to be the first operation of its type on a big cat. The tiger, Ratna, lives at Shepreth Wildlife Park, in Royston, Hertfordshire.

Staff at the Wildlife Park noticed Ratna’s eye was deteriorating and a corneal ulcer was diagnosed by a specialist eye vet. Surgeon, Dr. David William, from the Queen’s Veterinary School Hospital at Cambridge University and Steve Philp from the International Zoo Veterinary Group conducted corneal surgery at the wildlife park. After two months of careful monitoring they’ve signed the big cat off as ‘fully healed’. Corneal surgery is performed on domestic dogs and cats, but not previously on a tiger due to the amount of anesthesia needed.

Ratna’s Inflamed Eye

Dr Willams said, “It was unlikely Ratna could see much with her left eye before the surgery but the key thing was to have saved the eye!”

Dr William’s Outside the Tiger’s Enclosure.
Ratna’s Healed Eye

Sadly, majestic Sumatran tigers are on the brink of extinction. It’s estimated that there are only between 300 and 500 of them left in the wild. It’s curious then that the pioneering eye surgery took place at a wildlife park in Royston because the area’s home to the Royston Cave, adorned with mysterious perhaps mystical carvings. The cave features heavily in The Earth Emperor’s Eye as a magical place where miracles happen – a place that may hold the key to the salvation of the natural world.

Here’s a video of Ratna and her daughter when they arrived at the park. It includes details of the plight faced by the wild tigers and the fund raising efforts.

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