Cambridgeshire

Cambridge vet performs eye surgery on shot orangutan

Aan the orangutan Image copyright Orangutan Foundation
Image caption Aan the blind orangutan went under a three-hour operation

A British vet is hopeful she has restored the sight of an orangutan which was shot more than 100 times with an air rifle.

Aan was left blind in one eye and severely sight-impaired in the other after the attack on a palm oil plantation in Borneo in 2012.

Vet Claudia Hartley, from Cambridge, performed a three-hour operation on Aan at the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve in Borneo on Friday.

She said the surgery went "very well".

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"We're pleased with how it went," said the 44-year-old volunteer veterinarian ophthalmologist.

"I'd like to assess her better when she's behaving a bit more normally.

"She's still quite sleepy and keeping the eye shut, so it's difficult to know how much she sees."

Image copyright Orangutan Foundation/PA
Image caption Claudia Hartley and her team said the operation went "very well"

Ms Hartley's team of four flew out earlier this week with 265lb (120kg) of equipment in an attempt to restore Aan's sight.

They performed a cataract operation on the primate's right eye before removing the left eye, which was blinded permanently by the attack.

The team tried to insert an artificial lens into the right eye but were unable to do so.

After the operation Ms Hartley said: "If we shone a bright light in she would then scrunch her eye up.

"I'm pretty sure she can recognise the light."

Image copyright Orangutan Foundation/PA
Image caption Ms Hartley and her team attempted to insert an artificial lens
Image copyright Orangutan Foundation
Image caption If the operation has been successful, Aan will be released back into the wild

She added: "But we can't assess how well she sees food and trees and obstacles and those sort of things which is the more critical thing that we need to do."

If the operation is successful, Aan will continue to be cared for by the Orangutan Foundation at the reserve for a further three to four weeks, before being released into the wild.

Ashley Leiman, director of the foundation, said: "As long as she has some sight, I'm confident she will have a life in the wild."

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