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Windhoek Ophthalmologist Helps Save Young Cheetah’s Eye
OTJIWARONGO, Namibia (23 Jan. 2015) – Dr. Léart Petrick, a Windhoek eye specialist with a practise focused on serving humans, recently travelled to Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) to perform an operation on a different kind of patient. Khayjay, a four-and-a-half-year-old cheetah that has lived at CCF since he was three weeks of age, successfully underwent a 45-minute surgery to address a chronic, debilitating eye problem.
“Khayjay’s left eye was creating excessive amounts of discharge, causing him discomfort and interfering with his vision”, said CCF veterinarian Dr. Mari-Ann DaSilva. “When Khayjay was not responding to our initial treatment protocol, we decided to examine him thoroughly under anaesthesia”.
Dr. Da Silva consulted with Dr. Petrick, who agreed that surgery was the best option. The operation was performed at CCF on 6 January, with Dr. Petrick bringing his own special ophthalmology tools. Dr. Petrick has practised in Windhoek for approximately 10 years and occasionally makes his services available to assist veterinarians with domestic animals. Khayjay’s surgery marks the first time he has operated on a cheetah.
“Khayjay’s problem is the result of long-term inflammation, and the procedure I performed is fairly simple”, said Dr. Petrick. “Khayjay seemed to respond well to the surgery. We anticipate he will make a quick recovery and have full use of the eye”.
During the surgery, Khayjay’s third eyelid was sutured shut to act as a natural bandage. It will remain closed for a few weeks to allow the eye to heal. Eye ointment is being applied five times a day. “The sutures are absorbable and will dissolve on their own. At that time, his eye should be well into the healing process and function normally”, said Dr. Da Silva.
““We are so pleased to have a resource like Dr. Petrick in the community who is willing to step outside of his normal practise and donate his services to help us with one of our orphan cheetahs”, said Dr. Laurie Marker, Founder and Executive Director of CCF. “We don’t have many veterinarian specialists in the country, so having an interested human specialist is wonderful. Having healthy eyes and clear vision is just as important to cheetahs as it is for people.”
Cheetah Conservation Fund
The Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) is the global leader in research and conservation of cheetahs. CCF is a Namibian non-profit trust dedicated to saving the cheetah in the wild. CCF believes that understanding the cheetah’s biology, ecology and interactions with people is essential to conserve the cheetah in the wild. The strategy is a three-pronged process of research, conservation and education, beginning with long-term studies to understand and monitor the factors affecting the cheetah’s survival. Results are used to develop conservation policies and programs. CCF works with local, national and international communities to raise awareness, communicate and educate.