World’s first wild “big cat” undergoes cataract surgery

On November 26, the world’s first wild snow leopard ultrasound emulsified cataract treatment was successfully performed in Xining. “Patient” for an “old” snow leopard “Ling han”. Snow leopard is the national level of the focus on the protection of wild animals, the world has about 4000 to 7500 wild snow leopards, China’s distribution of about 2000 to 2500, is the most important snow leopard distribution country. Snow leopard is the flagship species of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau ecosystem, and the Sanjiangyuan area is one of the most important distribution slots.

In January 2019, an ecological guard in Hedo County, Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province, found an injured snow leopard during a patrol, then contacted the local forest public security to rescue the snow leopard, and overnight snow to send the injured snow leopard to Xining Safari Park (Qinghai Wildlife Rescue and Breeding Center) for treatment.

Qinghai Wildlife Rescue and Breeding Center experts for the “big cat” carried out a systematic physical examination, found that the injured snow leopard’s condition is not good. Thin body, hair messy and matte, mouth, nose no secretion, no vision in the eyes, no excreta contamination around the anus, forehead, back bruising area is hair off the skin bare red, close to the stress response is small, mental depression. The snow leopard is an elderly male, weighing about 25 kg and aged 11 years and older, and is close to the age limit of the wild snow leopard, according to the data comparison. The zoo’s veterinary team decided to treat it conservatively, treat the trauma and help him recover physically and mentally. As the arrival date is the “big cold” in the twenty-four knots, it is named “Ling cold”.

On February 25, Professor Jin Yipeng, a wildlife disease expert at China Agricultural University, brought his team to anaesthetize “Ling Han” and conduct a comprehensive clinical examination. At this time, “Ling han” weight has been restored to 30 kg, the animal mental state is more normal, alert, standing posture, normal movement. After anesthesia, the state is stable, the muscle loose effect is good.

Eye examination fissure lamp can be seen, the left eye due to trauma caused cornea perforation, part of the iris out, fluorescent dyeing see corneal ulcer, need to restore the iris and stitch the cornea, the use of ao-vision flushing, antibiotic point eye to prevent secondary infection;

Dental examination shows that the teeth have obvious wear, left upper jaw teeth, front molars and upper and lower jaw teeth all fell off, left upper jaw canine teeth fold, only residual roots;

A full-body examination showed the absence of the left front third toenails, the healing of back trauma, the softness of the touch abdomen, which can touch small hard lumps in the intestines, suspected to be food bone slag, and the contact of the whole body lymph nodes did not see abnormalities. It is suggested that the feasibility of surgery to restore “Ling Cold” vision is discussed in the case of further restoring the “Ling han” physical condition.

Happily, since the “Ling han” was rescued, after 10 months of rehabilitation, in addition to eye problems, have returned to normal, weight gain to more than 40 kg. As the “Ling han” right eye retina and light reflection are normal, in order to be able to ensure its ability to capture the surrounding color and motion, improve the quality of life of animals, improve their welfare level, Professor Jin Yipeng team and the park veterinary team after many consultations and communication, then determined to his right eye cataract surgery.

“Ling Han” into the operating room

On the evening of November 25, Professor Jin Yipeng and four assistants arrived in Xining, overnight to view the operating conditions of Yunhua Animal Hospital in Xining City, exchange with experts from Qinghai University Agricultural and Pastoral College and Yunhua Animal Hospital on the “Ling Han” condition, formulate the next day’s operation process and division of labor, and install and debug many instruments and equipment arriving in advance until the early hours of the 25th. A large number of instruments such as ophthalmic surgery microscopes are provided for free use by enthusiastic enterprises.

On the 26th, at 9:50, Professor Jin Yipeng’s team anesthesia and Xining Wildlife Park veterinary team anaesthetized “Ling Han” and were caged for evacuation. After a series of checks and preparations, at 11:45, “Ling Han” entered the operating room. After the medical team work together, an hour and a half later, the right eye cataract surgery completed, not only to remove the cataract, but also for the “Ling han” to replace the Japanese Meniwang donated artificial crystal. Subsequently, the veterinarian on the “Ling han” left eyelid ruptured third eyelid was processed stitching, to avoid long-term corneal friction and even damage.

At 15 o’clock, the operation was successfully completed, 20 minutes later, “Ling Han” sober, transferred back to Xining Safari Park, began a month of post-care.

During the care period, the nursing team at Xining Safari Park will have no less than six drug flushes a day to keep a close eye on their recovery. A month later, will choose the machine for review, recovery smoothly, “Ling Han” will return to normal vision.

Ultrasound emulsified cataract absorption is currently the most common and effective method for treating cataracts in the human eye, and has been used clinically in small animals such as dogs and cats, and has not been retrieved. This time, the application of ultrasonic emulsifier suction successfully treated the wild snow leopard suffering from cataracts, “Ling cold”, which is the first case in China and the world, its significance and far-reaching impact.

The success of this operation, not only is expected to restore “Ling han” vision, greatly improve its welfare level, but also for the future involving ophthalmology of wildlife rescue provides an important reference, I believe that there will be more wild animals in the country because of this technology to see the light again.

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