Chinese vets perform world’s first snow leopard cataract surgery

By Shan Jie Source:Global Times Published: 2019/11/28 20:48:40

Linghan, the snow leopard during surgery Photo: Courtesy of Xining Zoo

Chinese veterinarians successfully completed the world's first cataract surgery on a snow leopard on Tuesday in Northwest China's Qinghai Province. 

Linghan, an older snow leopard, was recovering from the cataract surgery on his right eye at the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Wildlife Zoo (Xining Zoo) on Tuesday morning, according to a statement zoo officials sent to the Global Times on Wednesday.

Linghan was anesthetized and went into surgery at 11:45 am. 

Veterinarians finished the procedure in roughly three hours. Linghan woke up 20 minutes after the surgery.

An intraocular lens was implanted in his right eye after the cataract was removed.

Linghan, the snow leopard during surgery Photo: Courtesy of Xining Zoo

Jin Yipeng, vice president at the College of Veterinary Medicine at China Agricultural University, performed the surgery with his team.

Jin said the procedure went smoothly and explained Linghan's recovery will depend on the animal's condition but he was "cautiously optimistic."

The procedure marked the first cataract surgery performed on a snow leopard in the world, according to the statement.

"The surgery will not only improve Linghan's living quality, but also provide experience in rescuing other wild animals," the statement said.

Linghan was injured during his rescue from the wild in Qinghai's Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in January.

He was sent to Xining Zoo immediately afterwards. 

Experts learned Linghan was 11 years old, roughly the maximum age for his species.

Linghan, the snow leopard Photo: Courtesy of Xining Zoo

Since February, Linghan has undergone multiple treatments.

The snow leopard is a Class A protected animal in China. There are 4,000 to 7,500 snow leopards in existence worldwide, according to field studies. Roughly 2,000 to 2,500 are in China.

The Xining Zoo has 12 snow leopards, including Aoxue, China's first and only surviving, artificially bred snow leopard.


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