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Philadelphia Zoo snow leopard cubs get eye operations

Surgeons operating on two snow leopard cubs at Philadelphia Zoo born with coloboma, a dangerous eye abnormality. Photo Philadelphia Zoo.

Two snow leopard cubs, Kimti and Dian, born in June at Philadelphia Zoo have had major surgery to correct coloboma, a medical condition that causes irritation and infections from hairs touching the eyes. Both cubs had the small areas of the centre of their eyelids missing, a condition that is not uncommon in Zoo births.

The two males, born to mum Maya, were treated by a medical team consisting of 4 veterinary opthalmologists. The team did all sorts of things to make sure the operation would be a success, including getting the cubs familiar with the sights and smells of the operating room, and doing their best to make sure the cubs’ mother welcomed them back.

The surgeons deliberately didn’t operate until the cubs were four months old so that if Maya rejected them they were weaned and could be fed by Zoo staff. Usually when domestic pets have this type of operation they are given an Elizabethan collar so they can’t scratch or lick the wounds but the medical team decided this was not a good idea for the cubs as there was a chance their mother may not recognise them or even attack them.

Kimti and Dian, two cubs with coloboma, an abnormality of the eye. They were recently operated on at Philadelphia Zoo. Photo Philadelphia Zoo.

One the cubs had a second stint of surgery but the medical team is optimistic for the health of both cubs.

The Zoo plans to show the cubs to the public next month.

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