Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s Black Rhino breeding male, Kwanzaa had recently developed a problem with his eye. Keepers and vets had been monitoring the progressive corneal ulcer and providing treatment, but it continued to worsen despite the intensive medical attention. The Zoo enlisted the help of Specialist Veterinary Ophthalmologist, Dr Jeff Smith from Sydney to assist with the delicate operation. Dr Smith has assisted both Taronga and Taronga Western Plains Zoo in the past with a number of procedures on animals such as Guanaco, Galapagos Tortoise, Seals and Tapir.
Dr Smith conducted surgery on the eyeball to repair the ulcer out in the field on what was a very rainy day for Dubbo. The procedure was a delicate and complex surgery on the cornea itself using surgical magnification and specialised instruments. The surgery went well with the ulcer being repaired and patched with a corneal sliding graft.
If the ulcer was left untreated it could have resulted in ruptured and collapsed the eyeball which would have caused permanent blindness and pain for Kwanzaa.
Kwanzaa’s eye is being managed with post-operative medication. Staff expect him to make a full recovery and be back to his role as one of the key breeding males at the Zoo in no time.