This photograph, taken by Zoo Photographer Tom Gillespie, shows C'sar returning to his spacious outdoor exhibit several days after his first cataract surgery.  

Big Bull Elephant's Second Eye Surgery a Brilliant Success!

The entire Zoo staff celebrated on May 29, 2012, after its beloved elephant, C’sar, underwent a second successful cataract surgery. Dr. Richard McMullen led the team of specialists from NC State University College of Veterinary Medicine that performed both surgeries. The procedures, which are rarely conducted on elephants, were scheduled after C'sar's vision became too impaired to permit him to move safely around his exhibit.

When keepers confined him to his barn and paddock, C'sar's health began to fail. That condition reversed itself almost immediately after the surgery team removed the first cataract and restored some of C'sar's vision. The surgical team had hoped to implant corrective lenses in C'sar's eyes as part of both surgeries, but the cataracts had undermined the eye tissues that were needed to support any implanted lenses. Without the lenses, C'sar's can see, but he is farsighted.

Dr. Ryan DeVoe, the Zoo's Senior Veterinarian at the time, raised the possibility that C'sar's vision might be improved by yet another procedure sometime in the future. According to Dr. DeVoe, these two successful surgeries have the NC State Veterinary team considering the possibility of fitting C'sar with some specially-designed contact lenses—depending upon C'sar's recovery and eye conditions. If that happens, C'sar will carve out a place in the annuals of veterinary medicine by becoming the first elephant in history to be fitted with a contact lens.


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