Orangutan breathes easy after pioneering sinus operation

Orangutan
Fortunately the principals of sinus operations are the same for apes as humans, as their skulls are very similar. Credit: Chester Zoo

An orangutan has become the first ape in the UK to undergo a sinus operation.

Vicky, 29, had the pioneering surgery at Chester Zoo’s on-site Animal Health Centre and was swiftly returned to her enclosure where she remained alone.

Orangutan on operating table
Unsurprisingly, Vicky was no happier on the operating table than your average human. Credit: Chester Zoo

The 49kg Bornean orangutan had chronic sinusitis which may have made her 'thick headed’ and more susceptible to infections.

But after the two-hour procedure she is expected to be back with her fellow apes within 12 hours.

Orangutan on operating table
The surgery was conducted by the zoo’s vets, colleagues from Blackpool Zoo and a human sinus expert from The Grosvenor Hospital in Chester. Credit: Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo vet Steve Unwin said the operation will make Vicky much more comfortable.

It’s fantastic that we’ve been able to do this for Vicky.

The operation went very well indeed, as smoothly as we could have hoped, and it’s great news for Vicky given her key role in the European Bornean orangutan breeding programme.

– Chester Zoo vet Steve Unwin
Orangutan
Vicky is currently living in Chester Zoo while her new house in her home of Blackpool Zoo is being built. Credit: Chester Zoo