Zoo Vets Help Blind Gorilla Josephine to See Again
That's when the staff at Miami Metrozoo and ophthalmologist Dr. Frank Spektor decided to step in and save the quality of life of this aging grandmother. Rare as they are, cataract surgeries on gorillas have been successfully completed in Dallas and Salt Lake City. Spektor, along with zoo vets Dr. Christine Miller, Dr. Tim J. Cutler and Dr. Lorraine Karpinski, performed a three-hour operation that removed the milky cataracts and inserted lenses that give Josephine the primate equivalent of 20-20 vision. The $10,000-$12,000 procedure, along with equipment and supplies from Alcon Laboratories, were all donated.
Since her surgery, Josephine is in, quite literally, a whole new world. "It's been incredible," Ron Magill, communications director of the Miami Metrozoo, tells PEOPLEPets.com. "When she first came out, she'd look at every little thing. There was no way to describe the look on her face. She stared at little pieces of grass like they were the best thing since sliced bread. If she could talk, it would've been like she was saying, 'I can see! I can see!' "
The operation has also done wonders for Josephine's social life. She is now once again fully interacting with her troupe, a "very heartwarming" development that has, according to Magill, made watching her story unfold one of the most emotional experiences in his 30 years at the zoo. Acknowledging the huge risk involved for operating on Josephine, who would be about 80 in human years, Magill admits, "I didn't sleep for three nights before the surgery. We all breathed a huge sigh of relief when she woke up." The nerve-wracking anticipation has been worth it, though, because witnessing Josephine's transformation has been nothing short of gratifying. "We've really been able to change the life of this gorilla."
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