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Paignton Zoo elephant Duchess can look ahead to a bright future

By This is SouthDevon  |  Posted: October 15, 2012


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A ground-breaking cataract operation on a captive elephant has been a resounding success.

Duchess, a 42-year-old African elephant, has previously lost her right eye to glaucoma in 2011 and sight was fading rapidly in her remaining good left eye until the intervention of a veterinary team three weeks ago.

But this weekend, bosses at Paignton Zoo, a registered charity, were delighted to report they have saved the eye and she can see clearly out of it.

Duchess, who weighs four tons, has been moving freely around her paddock and has been able to find her food without any difficulties.

Senior keeper Jim Dicks said: “I really don’t think it could have gone any better. She can see again.”

The operation, believed to be the first of its kind in Britain, was carried out by a team of specialists led by consultant ophthalmologist Jim Carter from Abbotskerswell Veterinary Centre. After three hours of non-stop surgery, Mr Carter was confident it had been a success but now the tense waiting period, in which Duchess was trained to take eye drops and other medication, is at an end.

Matthew Webb, senior head keeper of mammal at Paignton, said: “She is in good spirits and is enjoying being able to reach for naturally growing food in her enclosure which she was previously unable to do.”

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  • curleybar  |  October 15 2012, 2:28PM

    It is great news ! When we were last there back in Sept we started to feel sorry for the old girl...!

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  • sparro  |  October 15 2012, 10:23AM

    Brilliant news, so happy for her, glad it all went well, great job well done.

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