Eye of the tiger

Eye of the tiger saved, first time in history


A veterinarian in the United Kingdom has successfully carried out what is believed to be the first corneal surgery on the eye of the tiger and has saved the animal’s eye. 

BBC News reports a 17-year-old Sumatran tiger named Ratna that lives at Shepreth Wildlife Park near Cambridge has recovered after surgery to restore her eyesight. 

Ratna had a cataract removed from her left eye years before she and her daughter were moved to the wildlife park in 2019. 

Staff had been keeping a close watch on the tiger’s eye, as she needed daily eye drops, and noticed the condition of Ratna’s eye was deteriorating as she developed a problem in her conjunctiva, the pink part of the eyeball. 

It was discovered she had a corneal ulcer. 

“I think perhaps she’d managed to jab her eye on a stick of bamboo in her enclosure,” David Williams, a surgeon from the Queen’s Veterinary School Hospital at the University of Cambridge, told the BBC. 

Ratna underwent an operation in February to treat the condition, but the eye of the tiger continued to get worse. 

The next day Williams, along with veterinarian Steve Philp from the International Zoo Veterinary Group, carried out the first hood graft procedure — where the conjunctiva is secured over the cornea, allowing the cornea to heal — on a big cat. 

The surgery is not uncommon among domestic cats and dogs. 

“It’s like we might do with any domestic cat – but with a lot more anaesthetic,” Williams told the BBC. 

“But I don’t think anyone’s ever done this before in this species.”