SeaWorld Orlando Helps Remove Cataracts From Four Penguins

SeaWorld Orlando Veterinary & Aviculture Teams Work with Local Animal Eye Clinic to

Remove Cataracts from Four Penguins

 

A total of four SeaWorld Orlando penguins — one rockhopper and three gentoo – are healing nicely after receiving a specialty surgery on August 28, 2014 to remove cataracts at Animal Eye Associates in Maitland, Fla. The surgery was performed by veterinary ophthalmologist Dr. Heidi Denis, who specializes in animal ophthalmology.

A rockhopper penguin has his eyes examined by the veterinarian.
A rockhopper penguin has his eyes examined by the veterinarian.

 “As penguins get older they begin to show age-related health issues, just like humans,” said Dr. Lara Croft, SeaWorld Senior Veterinarian. “One of these signs is cataracts – a clouding of the eye lens that affects their quality of vision and quality of life. Thanks to this surgery, these four penguins will eventually regain vision and can return to normal behaviors, including eating on their own and swimming.”

SeaWorld Orlando’s Veterinary and Aviculture teams work with the Animal Eye Associates, in Maitland, Fla., to remove cataracts from four penguins.
SeaWorld Orlando’s Veterinary and Aviculture teams work with the Animal Eye Associates, in Maitland, Fla., to remove cataracts from four penguins.

The four penguins range in age from early to late 20s, which exceeds the life expectancy of their wild counterparts. Older penguins in the wild with compromised vision would most likely succumb to predators or starvation.

Veterinary ophthalmologist Dr. Heidi Denis, of Animal Eye Associates, removes the cataracts from a penguin.
Veterinary ophthalmologist Dr. Heidi Denis, of Animal Eye Associates, removes the cataracts from a penguin.

SeaWorld aviculturists noticed some of the older penguins in the Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin habitat weren’t eating and needed to be hand-fed. The vets arranged a consultation with eye specialists, and the ophthalmology team at Animal Eye Associates cleared the penguins for the procedure.

Dr. Lara Croft, SeaWorld Senior Veterinarian, checks on a rockhopper penguin.
Dr. Lara Croft, SeaWorld Senior Veterinarian, checks on a rockhopper penguin.

“Cataracts are very prevalent in our more than 20-year-old birds, and we now have regular ophthalmology consults for all of our older birds. Including these recent procedures, 17 penguins have been given restored sight with this surgery,” Dr. Croft said.

A true cataract that was removed from one of the penguins.
A true cataract that was removed from one of the penguins.

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