Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Bella's Recovery from her operation

27th January 2009

Bella’s eye is still showing no complications after the cataract removal on 9th December.  It is interesting seeing the extent of her vision when she moves off the smooth concrete and goes out onto the grassy slope at the back of her enclosure.  Sometimes she walks very slowly and carefully picking her way through the long grass and bushes.  At other times, when something attracts her attention at the top of the slope, she will bound towards it confidently.   Born Free’s senior veterinary consultant, John Knight, says that when Bella is tentative in her movements, this will probably be because she cannot focus at short distances and so placing her front feet is more difficult (she does not know what she is placing them on) and also she cannot anticipate the proximity of undergrowth before it hits her face. At medium and longer distances her sight is much better, and also she will be more sensitive, and so more responsive, to movement.

If we had inserted a replacement lens into Bella’s eye after the cataract removal, then she would have near-sighted vision as well.  However, unlike a pet dog or cat that can be handled, the long-term, follow-up care needed would have been almost impossible to carry out effectively, and would have been very stressful for Bella, so the decision was taken not to replace her lens.  We are delighted that she now appears to have good medium and long-sighted vision at least.  Before the operation everything would have been a blur.

Bella is relaxed and confident in her new home which is lovely to see, and continues to enjoy having regular meals and a varied diet - a far cry from the slimy, grey necks and wings from factory-farmed chickens she was fed on before.

We are still working on the lengthy process of securing all the necessary permits, and arranging the flights and overland travel to the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre, but we hope it won’t be much longer before Bella can exchange the Romanian winter weather for the sunshine in Malawi.

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  • bella - photo Credit: Dr Ion Brumar
  • Credit: Dr Ion Brumar

January 2009

We have been sent some lovely photos of Bella in the snow at her temporary home in Brasov Zoo.  They have been sent  by Dr Ion Brumar, the vet who cares for her.  Apparently she hasn’t been too keen to go out in the snow, preferring to remain in her heated indoor quarters, but it was a beautiful sunny day when the photos were taken and obviously Bella felt like stretching her legs.  It seems very clear, from one of the photos, that she is stalking the photographer using her eyesight, not her hearing or sense of smell.  Ion is convinced her vision is very much improved.

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


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