Preston vets and human doctor save orangutan’s life

Vicky the orangutan
Vicky the orangutan
  • Vicky, a 30-year-old orangutan, had surgery to clear her airways
  • Vets from Preston and a human ear nose and throat surgeon performed dual operation’s
  • Vicky is recovering well with daughters Summer, Cherie and male orangutan Ramon.
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An orangutan will be able to flash her famous smile once again after surviving life changing surgery.

In an incredibly rare link-up specialised zoo vets from Preston helped human doctors make 30-year-old Bornean orangutan Vicky’s life better by finally clearing her airways.

Vicky the orangutan

Vicky the orangutan

In a UK first the Blackpool Zoo based mother-of-two and endangered primate who is famed for her distinctive grin underwent a double operation to alleviate severe congestion caused by chronic sinusitis and air sacculitis.

Andrew Moore, surgeon at Oakhill Veterinary Surgery in Preston, believes the double operation saved Vicky’s life.

He said: “Air sacculitis is a common condition in orangutans and this type of surgery goes a long way to help alleviate symptoms and limits the risk of potentially life-threatening complications that may occur without such treatment.”

Both procedures were successful and Vicky rejoined daughters Summer and Cherie and male of the group Ramon less than 24 hours after the operation.

Less than 24 hours after the surgery she was back in with the rest of the orangutans and is recovering well.”

Specialist ear nose and throat surgeon, consultant Jawed Tahery from Nuffield Health, The Grosvenor Hospital in Chester was shipped in to carry out the functional endoscopic sinus surgery.

And Mr Tahery said he was delighted with the results: “As an ear, nose and throat surgeon I have carried out this procedure many times, but it is very rare to get the opportunity to operate on an animal.

“The anatomy of an orangutan and a human are similar but the orangutan doesn’t have frontal and ethmoid sinuses and their bones are much harder.

“The aim of the operation was to restore drainage in the sinuses and increase ventilation of the nasal cavity and I am delighted with the results.”

Vicky the orangutan

Vicky the orangutan

Oakhill veterinary surgeon Karen Archer performed Vicky’s first air sacculitis surgery alongside Andrew in April 2014 and she explained the need for an intervention.

She said: “The teamwork between top human and animal medical specialists in this case was the key to its success.

“Myself and my colleague Andrew drained Vicky’s air sac, which is used for vocalisation, and sutured it open to prevent any further build up and congestion.

“We will use the results of this, as well as the samples collected to further the research into this extremely interesting field.”

Vicky the orangutan

Vicky the orangutan

Whilst Peter Dillingham, Animal Manager at Blackpool Zoo was pleased the operation was a success.

He said: “I have been working with Vicky since she was born here at Blackpool Zoo almost 31 years ago and she is very special to everyone here.

“She has had these two conditions for many years and it has been fantastic to work with such esteemed medical experts to make this procedure a reality.

“Less than 24 hours after the surgery she was back in with the rest of the orangutans and is recovering well.”