Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Bella’s Surgery Gives Her the Chance of Being Rehomed

Credit John Knight
Bella had a glaucoma in her left eye and a cataract in her right

October 2008

Bella the lioness is transferred from Buhusi Zoo in Romania to Brasov Zoo two hours away.  The Born Free Foundation arranged with Brasov Zoo to give Bella a temporary home while she was recovering from an operation to remove her left eye, permanently damaged by a condition called glaucoma.  It was suspected Bella also had a cataract in her right eye.


John Knight, the Born Free Foundation’s veterinary consultant is in charge of her move, assisted by Brasov’s vet, Dr Ion Brumar.  Opthamlmic surgeon Dr David Donaldson, from the Animal Health Trust in Suffolk donates his services for the surgery on Bella’s eyes.  Acrivet, the veterinary department of S&V Technologies in Germany generously loan a head-mounted microscope and the portable ‘phacoemulsification’ kit specially designed for veterinary use, which allows cataract removal to be carried out on larger animals. Dr Iuliana Ionascu from the Department of Surgery and Comparative Ophthalmology at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Bucharest also donates her services.

A veterinary practice in Brasov, the Kronvet Clinic, unusual in Romania for having an anaesthetic machine, have offered their staff and facilities for the operation.  The anaesthetic machine, used to dealing with cats and dogs, will be adapted to make it suitable for a lion!

17.10.08 – Bella’s diseased left eye is removed.  She recovers successfully from the operation at Brasov Zoo.

Photo J.Knight
Bella’s diseased eye with the glaucoma was removed
Photo John Knight
Dr Donaldson prepares to remove the cataract

9.12.08 –John Knight and Dr Donaldson return to Brasov with colleagues from Acrivet.   The front capsule of Bella’s lens is removed and then ultrasound directed at the lens using a special handset which liquefies the hardened cataract material within the lens, allowing it to be aspirated from the eye.

This method generally has fewer complications and allows for faster healing, and indeed Bella seemed to have some vision within hours after the surgery.  She was seen gazing at the sky as if looking at the clouds overhead, behaviour not noticed before.  So far, so good.

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Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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