13 Jun 2010

'World first' chimpanzee operation at Wellington Zoo

5:11 pm on 13 June 2010

A team made up of veterinary specialists and an ear, nose and throat surgeon have successfully carried out an operation on a chimpanzee at Wellington Zoo thought to be a world-first.

The 28-year-old chimp, Cara, has been suffering from an ear infection for most of her life, and in recent years, antibiotics have been unable to ease her pain.

Most of her inner ear canal was removed by a medical team including two surgeons - one a vet - in a procedure which began on Sunday morning and took five hours.

The operation will leave the chimpanzee deaf in her left ear, but free of pain.

The head vet, Francois Lampen says the operation went smoothly, but they will need to wait a couple of days to find out whether there have been any unforeseen side effects.

He says other vets and specialists in human anatomy will be taking a keen interest in the outcome.