Tiger's eye is healing well after world-first operation according to Cambridge vets

A Sumatran tiger who underwent eye surgery in 2021 is healing well according the Cambridge vet who operated on her.
Vets check up on 20-year-old Ratna's eye after an operation to save her sight in 2021. Credit: Cambridge University/PA Wire

A tiger’s eye that was saved in an operation nearly three years ago has “healed really well”, according to a Cambridge University vet.

Experts were called in to help Ratna, a Sumatran tiger, in 2021 after she showed deterioration in her left eye following cataract removal surgery.

Vets checked up on the 20-year-old big cat after she returned to Shepreth Wildlife Park near Royston in Cambridgeshire earlier this year, and found she was doing well.

Dr David Williams, of Cambridge University’s Vet School, and vet Steve Philp, of the International Zoo Veterinary Group, operated on Ratna in February 2021, carrying out a hood graft to try to save her eye, in what was believed to be a world first for a big cat.

Dr Williams said: “The team at Shepreth told me that they were going to do some X-rays on Ratna, so it seemed like a good opportunity to check up on her eye at the same time.

“I’m thrilled to report that her eye has healed really well.

“It’s great news, because had it not been for the operation the eye would have worsened and she could have lost her eye.

“It’s wonderful to see how well the procedure worked.”

The procedure in 2021 took the team just 30 minutes to complete, with surgeons securing a flap of conjunctiva over Ratna's cornea, in order to let it heal itself.

The tiger was reported to have been up and walking around her enclosure just an hour afterwards.

Rebecca Willers, director of Shepreth Wildlife Park, said: “We are absolutely delighted with this outcome.

“Ratna is an older cat, and with this presents many potential risks to health.

To hear that both her eye and general condition are good was a welcome relief to the entire Shepreth team.

“We are grateful to have such veterinary expertise on our doorstep and the support and enthusiasm in particular of both David and Steve.”

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