Veterinarian Saves the Eye of a Tiger With an Operation That’s Never Been Done on a Big Cat

In a ‘world first’, a veterinarian performed surgery to heal an ulcerated cornea on the eye of a tiger.

If one can withstand the insufferable puns, they might be pleased to note that 17-year-old Sumatran tiger Ratna at Shepreth Wildlife Park in England made a full recovery after the surgery that successfully restored her eyesight.

Having had a cataract removed from her left eye in 2017, Ratna developed another problem in her conjunctiva, the pink part of the eyeball. Staff noticed her eyeball deteriorating, eventually turning bright red as if containing a fractured blood vessel.

Surgeon Dr. David Williams, from the Queen’s Veterinary School Hospital at the University of Cambridge, performed an operation which is not uncommon in domestic cats and dogs, and was completed in much the same way—aside from needing “a lot more anesthesia.”

It is believed to be the first “hood graft” surgery done on a big cat.

Williams hypothesized that Ratna must have stuck her eye on a shard of bamboo in her enclosure.

After two months of careful post-surgery monitoring, including daily eye drops, he declared Ratna as fully recovered.

Ratna, who moved to Shepreth with her daughter in 2019, was known to enjoy sitting on the top platform of her enclosure—but once her cornea became worse, her coordination went, and getting up and down became a struggle.

Describing her patience for human hands on her face as “fantastic,” Williams the vet told the BBC she is now “absolutely fine—you’d never know anything had been wrong.”

The only bad news from the ordeal is that none of the staff, nor Dr. Williams, managed to report to the BBC that Ratna was “watching us all with the eye of the tiger.”