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The Florida Aquarium will go to great lengths to ensure our animals have a great quality of life. Recently, one of our geriatric male northern pin tail ducks underwent cataract surgery to restore sight in his left eye.
This duck has lived at the Aquarium for many years. He had an injury in his left eye, which made him non-releasable. His home is in our Wetlands Gallery, where he lives with his girlfriend – a female pin tail duck.
Unfortunately, this duck developed a cataract in his left eye, which resulted in him becoming nearly blind. Since he lives in such a dynamic habitat with obstacles and other animals, we decided that surgery was the best option for his health.
The Aquarium has a great relationship with Blue Pearl Specialty & Emergency Pet Hospital of Tampa, which provided us with a veterinary ophthalmologist to come and take a look at the duck. The vet examined the duck and agreed it was a matured cataract and that he was blind. Surgery was recommended.
“The cataract procedure is pretty similar to a human getting Lasik eye surgery, explained Dr. Ari Fustukjian, the Aquarium’s associate veterinarian. He continued, “They removed the cataract, but they do not put a replacement lens in. The duck will not be able to focus well, but he will be able to see.”
Dr. Ari reported that, “The surgery went really well; it was pretty challenging as the duck’s eyes are very small. There were special modifications to equipment to work on an eye this tiny. The plan from here on out is just management of health. He is eating well. He can see and has one more check-up in a couple of weeks. We will make sure the stitches have dissolved, and then he can go back on habitat in a few weeks.”
Luckily the duck’s girlfriend is keeping him company in recovery until he is ready to go back on exhibit. What a lucky duck!