A blind lemur is able to see-mur after surgeons carried out painstaking operation – to remove his CATARACTS.
Sam, a four-year-old red fronted brown lemur, was known for his amazing agility and cheeky personality.
But when his eyes became sore and inflamed he found himself having to rely on memory to feel his way around his enclosure.
Keepers at Durrell Wildlife Park in Jersey had to rescue Sam from a tree then lock him up for his own protection after he got stuck high up a tree.
The centre’s vets started him on a course of eye drops in January to treat his ocular inflammation but they could tell his sight was failing fast.
A human ophthalmologist, Bartley McNeela, looked into the animal’s eyes and confirmed he had a large cataract in one eye and a second rapidly advancing in the other.
The wildlife park’s staff sent an urgent SOS to the British Animal Health Trust (AHT), who have previously saved the sight of elephants, bears, lions and eagles.
The trust dispatched leading vets Claudia Hartley and Rachael Grundon to carry out a painstaking two-hour op to save Sam’s sight.
They used specialist microscopes and precision instruments to perform the surgery, first making a 3mm incision into the lemur’s eyes to reach the cataracts.
With the help of ultrasound, each one was then liquefied and sucked out, leaving Sam able to see clearly for the first time in weeks.
The op was a great success but keepers had to keep the boisterous animal from scratching his eyes while giving him daily medicine to combat any infections.
Six weeks on, however, they say Sam is enjoying a new lease of life and has taken back his place as the dominant lemur in his pack.
With his newly repaired vision he’s now able to leap from branch to branch high above Durrell’s Lemur Lake exhibit without any further scares or mishaps.
Claudia Hartley, Head of Ophthalmology at the AHT, said: “In the past, we’ve helped elephants, bears, lions and even eagles to see again.
“Whether it’s a beloved family pet or a more exotic animal, there is nothing quite like the feeling of restoring sight to an animal, especially witnessing them see again for the first time.
“It really is the best job in the world.”
Lemurs are native to Madagascar where they are at risk of extinction in certain parts primarily due to the destruction of their habitat .
Hunting and trapping for food or the pet trade are also a major threat to this species, which is one of the most commonly hunted in the country.
There are 106 known species but 90 of those are classified as being near extinction.
Durrell’s Kelly Barker said: “Our staff are really attached to Sam, he’s a real character. We’ll do anything we can to improve the quality of life for any of our animals.”